The critical importance of patient experience in the emergency department

According to the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) 2013 report, more than 81.8 percent of unscheduled admissions to the hospital now come through the emergency department (ED), a hefty increase from the last decade when only 64.5 percent of unscheduled admissions came through the ED. With more and more patients using the ED as the gateway to a hospital, patient satisfaction and revenue are becoming increasingly reliant on the patient experience. If the emergency department experience is not good, they’re already geared up to have an unfavourable opinion as an inpatient.

Hospitals can create an immediate impact by improving the following two processes:

  • Reducing the Wait Time – The most critical metric that impacts a patient’s experience in the emergency department is wait time. Hospitals should assess their processes to detect any opportunities to cut door-to-doctor times. Sometimes the problem is the absence of an optimum emergency department information system, at other times an inefficient process may be causing bottlenecks.
  • Improving the communication between PCPs and ED physicians – Primary care physicians (PCP) are increasingly referring patients to the emergency department for additional testing and evaluation, but the pre and post communication between them has been poor so far*. The patient’s quality of care and wait time in the ED can be significantly improved if the PCP proactively communicates what they know about the patient’s condition and why the patient is being sent to the emergency department. Conversely, the ED should communicate findings to the PCP. Especially, Better communication and better tools for communicating will translate better emergency care.

As the front door of the hospital a better patient experience in the emergency department is of critical importance. These minor process changes can make a big difference in the patient experience. Moreover, it can quickly accelerate into a great experience.

*http://www.amednews.com/article/20110329/profession/303299996/8/

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