Emergency-department staff members at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C., went searching for more-efficient ways to create patient identifiers in an effort to expedite the care of arriving patients. In the past, they had employed the cumbersome traditional registration process, which delayed the time to being seen by a physician in the ED. Led by Dr. Steve Colucciello, a technology wonk and emergency physician, Carolinas Medical Center streamlined intake into the ED by using a biomedical identification process. Using infrared scanning, a palm image is taken when the patient arrives (much like a fingerprint in its uniqueness) and this serves as a patient identifier so the physician's assessment and ED care can begin. Later, other demographic information can be tied to the scan. Patients are now seen by the physician 45 seconds after their arrival. In addition, total registration time was reduced by 23 minutes.
Better Medicine: A spotlight on operational improvements
It is a difficult time to be practicing medicine, managing a healthcare organization or delivering healthcare. There are pressures on us from all sides, and financial considerations and cutbacks seem to create constraints to safe and efficient care. We are tasked with doing more with less while delivering higher levels of clinical and service quality. The regulatory burdens continue to grow, and the malpractice threat is ever-present. The high expectations of the public regarding customer service seem impossible to achieve. Add to this the fact that the physician workforce is shrinking and it's clear that these are challenging times.
In "Better Medicine," we will explore with you the limits of our performance as physicians, managers, leaders and innovators. We will be focused intensely on the trends and changes that directly affect U.S. healthcare and will present you with fresh approaches to the difficulties that lie before us. In particular, we will focus on operational improvements and innovations coming from the frontline practitioners.
Patient-flow innovations, staffing solutions, documentation strategies and performance improvements will all be part of our domain. We want to present you with good ideas that might otherwise go unsung. Together we will find the strategies to make the new evolving system of healthcare better for our patients and better for the work that we do on their behalf. With a never-ending, intense focus on quality, safety and efficiency, we will try to make sense of the new healthcare environment in which we work.
As the case study above demonstrates, there are new and clever approaches to operational problems, and we want to bring them to your door. Welcome to "Better Medicine!"
Dr. Shari WelchUtah Emergency PhysiciansSalt Lake City, UtahPresidentQuality Matters Consulting
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