The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and 50+ participating hospitals have been working together to evaluate what influences the smooth and timely flow of patients through hospital departments, and to develop and implement methods for optimizing patient flow. Specific areas of their focus include:
- Reducing waits for inpatient admission through emergency departments
- Achieving timely and efficient transfer of patients from the intensive care unit and the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) to medical/surgical units
- Improving flow from the inpatient setting to long-term care facilities
LEAN Focus: Unclogging Bottlenecks in the ED, ICU, OR and Related Pre- and Post-Care Areas
IHI recently updated a white paper about how to optimize patient flow that was first released in 2003. Since workflow optimization through a combination of best practice process improvements with the overlay of technology to help orchestrate tasks and facilitate accurate and timely information exchange between caregivers is at the heart of Optimium Health’s mission, we thought our readers would appreciate reading about the work IHI is doing. Below is an excerpt from IHI’s introduction to its white paper aptly called “Optimizing Patient Flow – Moving Patients Smoothly Through Acute Care Settings”:
While few hospital areas are designed to achieve optimal flow of patients, the emergency department, intensive care unit, and operating rooms and their related pre- and post-care areas tend to be major bottlenecks because they are non-interchangeable resources. Reducing delays and unclogging bottlenecks depend on assessing and improving flow between and among these departments, and throughout the entire system, rather than in isolated departments. IHI believes that the key to improving flow lies in reducing process variation that impacts flow. While some variability is normal, other variation is not and should be eliminated. Hospitals working with IHI have tested a range of changes to reduce process variation and improve flow. These changes are described in this white paper.