Transfer Centers Spell Relief for Rural Docs

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media , January 3, 2013

Under the transfer system, usually one call is made, typically to an 800 number, and within an average 30 minutes, the patient is in an ambulance or in a helicopter to another facility, Newman says. 

Nurses or physicians help coordinate the transfer center. "The impact on the ED is getting the critical care patient on the way to the other hospital in the quickest way possible," Newman says. "By doing the transfer, we're not tying up the ED physician."

At a receiving hospital, a hospitalist plays a key role in coordinating care. "It involves bringing in a specialist who may be required," he says.

Newman says the MSHA manages the patient transfers and personnel-on call schedules under its program MD Link. Newman says the hospital uses software that allows referring clinics, admitting staff, inpatient nurses, physicians and case managers to be connected.

Some hospitals still operate manually, with phone calling and written forms, and that could spell delays, Newman says.

"It used to take 20, 30, multiple calls to try different hospitals and develop relationships with physicians over the years—a lot of work for the ED physician to line up a transfer. Now they call one number," Newman says. "Before all the transfers went from ED to ED, now we have accepting physicians who don't tie up the ED," he adds.

And that, he says, is a step toward easing the bottlenecks at the ED.

Joe Cantlupe is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media Online.
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