An overwhelming share of hospital leaders—95%—said they have current or ongoing efforts to improve throughput in the ED.
Among the most effective techniques they cited to increase ED efficiency are fast-track areas for severe illnesses or injuries, 65%; a triage medical evaluation process, 56%; and coordination with inpatient floor nurses, 55%.
Only one third of healthcare leaders said they have programs in the ED that focus on diverting patients with specific conditions. Among those that have programs, 42% focus on psychiatric health issues, 33% target prescription drug abuse, and 22% home in on alcohol-related issues.
Such programs may become more important for ED efficiency as hospital officials handle increasing patient volume, Davis says.
"As unemployment rises, as economies tighten, flexible spending goes down; as divorce rates go up, people are under more stress, and there's more psychiatric visits. But small community hospitals don't have dedicated psychiatric services and psychiatric beds," he says.