Improving the Throughput Performance of the Emergency Department

Session Description
While improving ED throughput in any ordinary year would be considered a challenge, improving throughput in the post-pandemic environment may be considered insurmountable. This presentation will showcase how several practice locations across geographies successfully navigated barriers by innovating and adapting their existing processes to the new resource landscape, realizing significant improvements in clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction.

Participating sites successfully mitigated resource limitations and produced astonishing results by leveraging the following time-tested lean/throughput principles:
o Elimination of overprocessing
o Load leveling
o Efficient use of space
o Reduction of cycle times
o Shortest task first

Improving ED throughput with limited resources and competing priorities for care delivery teams.

The overall process for improving ED throughput follows a similar model employed in other performance improvement activities. The PDCA (PDSA) cycle is a popular method to guide continuous performance improvement activities.

Emergency department flow depends on the function of several interdependent processes that comprise the front end (intake), patient processing, and the back end (output). Regardless of patient acuity or disposition, deficiencies in any of these areas will lead to poor throughput.

Though the post-pandemic environment continued to contribute to struggles with throughput due to rising
patient volumes and critically low staffing levels, several sites participated in the ED Throughput Collaborative and overcame the odds during and posted impressive improvements in TAT-D.

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