Patient volume handled by the emergency department increased by more than 1,000 patients, or 10 percent, with no increase in its budget.

SaaS Solving Emergency Department Overloads

A case study offered by the American Hospital Association shows how a computer-assisted handoff system cut patients' length of stay at an Illinois hospital and increased the ED's volume by 10 percent without a budget increase.

The American Hospital Association's chairman, Richard P. de Filippi, this week hailed a Chicago-area hospital's success at reducing the amount of time patients wait in its emergency department. Ingalls Memorial Hospital in Harvey, Ill., has used OptiVox, a computer-assisted handoff system, since July 2008, allowing ED staffers to record and retrieve patient reports efficiently by phone. They can listen to the reports they need, as many times as necessary, and no longer have to fax reports or wait for the staffer handing off a patient to be available by phone.

Average length of stay in the emergency department dropped from 322 minutes in the first quarter of 2008 to 233 minutes in the first quarter of 2010.Ingalls implemented the system in a Software as a Service (SaaS) setup: The hospital has secure online and phone access to remotely hosted software applications through a lease arrangement, according to AHA's case study about the program.

Today, the system aids in 3,600 handoffs per week on 30 units. OptiVox is offered by privately held Clinical Health Communications, Inc. of Knoxville, Tenn.

Results listed in the case study are:

  • Patients' average length of stay in the emergency department dropped from 322 minutes in the first quarter of 2008 to 233 minutes in the first quarter of 2010. At the same time, the rate of patients leaving without being seen fell from 9.9 percent to 3.0 percent.
  • The department's volume increased by more than 1,000 patients, or 10 percent, with no increase in its budget. As a result, the department added $2.4 million to the hospital's net revenue in the first fiscal year following implementation.

The case study is posted on the website of AHA's Hospitals in Pursuit of Excellence, a strategic initiative of the association to accelerate hospitals' improvement in several areas that include patient safety.

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