Reducing ED Wait Times

The Diseconomies of Queue Pooling: An Empirical Investigation of Emergency Department Length of Stay

by Hummy Song, Anita L. Tucker & Karen L. Murrell

OVERVIEW —Improving efficiency and customer experience are key objectives for managers of service organizations including hospitals. In this paper, the authors investigate queue management, a key operational decision, in the setting of a hospital emergency department. Specifically, they explore the impact on throughput time depending on whether an emergency department uses a pooled queuing system (in which a physician is assigned to a patient once the patient is placed in an emergency department bed) or a dedicated queuing system (in which physicians are assigned to specific patients at the point of triage). The author’s measured throughput time based on individual patients’ length of stay in the emergency department, starting with arrival to the emergency department and ending with a bed request for admission to the hospital or the discharge of a patient to home or to an outside facility. The findings show that, on average, the use of a dedicated queuing system decreased patients’ lengths of stay by 10 percent. This represented a 32-minute reduction in length of stay—a meaningful time-savings for the emergency department and patients alike. The authors argue that physicians in the dedicated queuing system had both the incentive and ability to make sure their patients’ care progressed efficiently so that patients in the waiting room could be treated sooner than they otherwise would have. Key concepts include:

  • This study tests the impact of a queuing system structure on the throughput time of patients in an emergency department that had recently switched from a pooled queuing system to a dedicated queuing system.
  • Patients experienced faster throughput times when physicians were working in a dedicated queuing system as opposed to a pooled queuing system.
  • The benefits of a dedicated queuing system may be due to greater visibility into one’s workload and the increased ability for physicians to manage patient flow.


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A Patient Waiting Room Satisfaction Solution
A Patient Waiting Room Satisfaction Solution

Patient Q® is a patient waiting rooming satisfaction solution designed for hospital Emergency Rooms and Urgent Care Centers to effectively manage the patient experience by creating a virtual waiting room.

Patients can access the ER or Urgent Care waiting room portal from the hospital or clinic’s website, choose the next most convenient and available visit time. Complete the online forms to expedite registration and prepare the ED team ahead, which will reduce the patient’s wait time and visit time, as revealed in Dr. Song’s study.

Patient Q can be effective at capturing new patients from your competitor as a result of our value-added search engine optimization which brings patients right to your online portal.  When a patient finds they have a choice to avoid waiting hours in a waiting room versus the comfort and convenience of their own home they will likely choose the convenience of their living room. Patient Q will call or text them as their visit time approaches.

Many quality hospitals and providers suffer from poor patient satisfaction reviews associated with long and unpredictable wait times. Patient satisfaction is core quality measure that is publicly reported and could result in lower reimbursement not to mention the damage to your brand reputation, particularly in the era of social media where your brand is now in the hands of social media fans or foes. To learn more visit http://QueueMobile.com or call 203-715-4780.

Patient Q is only for nonlife or limb threatening conditions.