Not just a buzzword
The idea of improving ED performance through teamwork may seem obvious and even cliché. But the truth is, EDs driven by strong multidisciplinary teams have a competitive advantage in the era of value-based care.
Perhaps the biggest benefits of teamwork are efficiency and throughput. Processes simply move faster when team members communicate and share the workload. Speeding up the ED almost always leads to improvements in the following:
Quality program performance
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) evaluates EDs on several time-limited measures (for example, the percentage of chest pain patients receiving fibrinolytic therapy within 30 minutes of hospital arrival). Speed and process efficiency help hospitals to improve their quality scores and maximize their CMS reimbursements.
CMS also ties a percentage of value-based reimbursement to patient satisfaction surveys. Patients who move efficiently through the ED tend to score their care much higher than those who spend hours waiting to be seen.
The faster the ED can admit and discharge patients and turn over beds, the more patients it can serve. This raises hospital revenue both directly and by boosting admissions numbers.
Patients with shorter ED lengths of stay are more likely to receive evidence-based care and less likely to experience complications due to treatment delays.
Each patient who leaves the ED without being seen costs the hospital hundreds of dollars in revenue. Patients who walk out are also at increased risk for complications and may have poorer outcomes. By contrast, walkouts tend to decrease when time-to-provider improves.
Improving ED throughput tends to improve patient flow across the hospital.
In addition to efficiency gains, teamwork has other advantages for EDs and their hospitals:
- More than 70 percent of medical errors can be attributed to poor communication. Teamwork is safer for patients, because it keeps the care team on the same page.
- Staff satisfaction. Teamwork is more satisfying for healthcare workers than operating in rigid hierarchies.
- Patient experience and loyalty. Communication between providers tends to impress patients and families, further improving patients' satisfaction with their care.
So improving ED teamwork almost always pays off for your hospital and patients. But how do you get there? Stay tuned for next week's continuation of this article, highlighting the processes that have helped foster a culture of teamwork at Vituity's EDs.
Click here to read the continuation of this article. To learn more about Vituity's emergency medicine solutions, visit our website.
Originally published July 31, 2018.