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Seven Lessons to Proactively Manage Patient Flow

Hospitals around the globe share similar challenges with regards to patient flow: inefficient emergency department diversion strategies, high percentages of unnecessary admissions, and extended lengths of stay due to delays in the inpatient journey. These challenges become more acute and harder to resolve because clinical leaders struggle to anticipate them or identify when or why these delays are happening. Overall, organisations are operating reactively instead of proactively in tackling patient flow problems.

With capacity and financial pressures increasing, hospital leaders must explore new strategies to manage patient flow. In this research briefing, we highlight lessons that progressive executives have embedded across their hospitals, following three principles crucial to efficient patient flow.

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  • Centralise decision oversight: Aggregate patient flow information to empower staff to respond cohesively and proactively to capacity pressures
  • Pull patients out of beds: Diligently align processes so patients don’t spend days in a bed without acute care treatment, including relocating care to alternative sites
  • Shift the default away from admission: Embed mechanisms that make it easier for staff to divert patients to more appropriate care sites to avoid unnecessary admissions

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