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September 21, 2016

In six months, NewYork-Presbyterian's 'air traffic control center' slashed patient wait times

Daily Briefing

To prevent patient access bottlenecks, NewYork-Presbyterian (NYP) recently created a command center where staff members can more efficiently oversee patient flow—and it's already seeing results.

Previously, six of NYP's campuses had patient tracking systems, but they were far from efficient. Holly Meisner, VP of patient access, said the systems revealed many opportunities, but "we didn't know what the left hand was doing from the right hand."

Fixing patient flow—who owns it, and where to look for help

To help ease the problem, the system's NYP/Columbia University Medical Center campus worked with a third-party vendor to create the Patient Placement Operations Center (PPOC) in February to support its preexisting patient tracking system.

The center, hosted in a room on the hospital's campus, is equipped with staff members who monitor multiple screens with real-time data about patient flow through the hospital, to ensure patients are getting into beds quickly and efficiently.

Nurses at the center—serving as patient flow specialists—identify where beds are free and where incoming patients should be placed. Other staff members oversee housekeeping to ensure new beds are ready for patients and coordinate with the transport team tasked with moving patients around the hospital.

The PPOC also analyzes trends, such as how long it takes a patient to be admitted, how long physicians spend with patients, and the average response time for a transport order.

It's similar to "an air traffic control center," Meisner said. "We want to be able to give patients access, and we want to make it as easy and streamlined as possible."

Early results promising

The Columbia PPOC has been open about six months, and the early data show promising results. "We know that the patient satisfaction score has gone up and we've been able to create access for our patients," Meisner said.

In addition, the time it takes to complete a transfer request from another facility has dropped from 24 hours to 8 hours, and the time it takes a patient to be admitted and placed in a bed has declined by 20 percent. 

Joseph Underwood III, chief of the ED at the Columbia campus, said the new system "has had a significant impact on our department. We've been able to eliminate some of the downtime we have for beds." He added, "Basically, patients are getting their beds sooner, reducing the amount of time our admitted patients spend in the ED."

NewYork-Presbyterian recently launched its second PPOC at its NYP/Weill Cornell Medical Center campus, and it plans to open centers at two more locations over the next year (Schatz, Crain's New York, 9/6; Davis, Healthcare IT News, 2/10; Goedert, Health Data Management, 2/11).

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