Hospital ranked nationally for short wait times in ER

Published 2:33 am Saturday, January 28, 2017

Andalusia Health was included this week in a list of the 59 emergency departments in the nation with the shortest wait times for patients.

Becker’s Hospital Review published the list of hospitals in which patients spent an average of four minutes or less before being seen by a healthcare professional, according to CMS’ Hospital Compare database.

Andalusia Health CEO John Yanes said in this ranking, the local hospital is competing with every other hospital in the country.

“This is not just a ranking in our peer group, we’re competing with everybody,” he said.

Becker’s used the “door to diagnostic evaluation” measure in Hospital Compare’s Emergency Department Care Measures dataset. The information was collected from April 2015 through March 2016.

The national average door to diagnostic evaluation time is 22 minutes. Andalusia Health’s is four minutes.

Several years ago, the hospital’s emergency department changed its protocol for intake, director Amy Herrington said. Patients now ring a doorbell, and are greeted by a health care provider.

“That person takes the patient immediately to a room,” Herrington said. “We have been able to lower our wait times and get the patients what they want, which is to have someone look at them.”

The registration process has been moved to the bedside, cutting out the paperwork part at beginning, and putting it in the middle and end of the emergency visit.

Andalusia Health’s emergency department managed 21,899 visits in 2016, or an average of 2,189 for each of the department’s 10 beds. Those visits average 59.9 per day.

While those numbers seem high, Yanes said they would have been higher if the hospital didn’t have a walk-in clinic.

“We had 5,800 visits to the walk-in clinic last year,” he said. “If those had gone to the ER, I’m not sure how we could have handled the volume.”

Herrington said the emergency doctors and staff bought in to the new process.

“They see that it helps our throughput,” Herrington said. “There are not many facilities who can see as many patients per year as we do. Our success is 100 percent them trusting the process, then seeing that it works.”

Yanes said that in addition to the immediate bedding policy, the hospital added additional monitors which help physicians monitor activity.

“The physician may be on the computer, working on chart, but the monitor lets him or her know there is a patient waiting to be seen,” he said.

Yanes praised the department for the teamwork that helped them achieve the benchmark.

“This result is due to their work,” he said. “Health care is so complex these days, you have to work in teams.”