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Leverage Physician Communication Technology to Close Emergency Department Care Gaps

Delays in the emergency department can be more than inconvenient – they can be deadly. Care gaps most often arise from emergency department overcrowding, which can be exacerbated by outdated physician communication technology and processes.

The Impact of ED Overcrowding in Care Gaps

Researchers have studied the efficacy of “offload zones” in managing the delays that occur between the time a patient arrives via ambulance and the time that an emergency department bed opens up. They identified 78 ways that offloading steps could fail and result in negative impacts on patients or processes. Fully 25 percent of these failure modes were deemed to pose a high risk to patient safety, meaning that they could cause death or severe injury, or require an increased level of care.

The American College of Emergency Physicians notes that emergency department overcrowding contributes to a number of patient care gaps, including delays in triggering appropriate sepsis bundles, administering antibiotics for pneumonia, and managing analgesia for those in pain. The Emergency Nurses Association states that emergency department care caps caused by overcrowding lead to increased patient mortality, poorer outcomes for chest pain patients, and increased times to surgery.

Physician Communication Technology Can Help Close Care Gaps

Proper utilization of technology can close care gaps, enabling patients to receive healthcare that’s both appropriate and timely. For example, clinical data from electronic health records can be analyzed to identify patients at risk for chronic diseases or for complications from those diseases. It can also be used to trigger patient notifications for preventative services and provider notifications to follow up with patients.

When it comes to addressing care gaps in the emergency department, physician communication technology can help. All too often, on-call physician schedules are created using spreadsheets or pen-and-paper. On-call schedules are distributed via the hospital intranet or by printing them out and posting them in the emergency department. As a result, changes to physician on-call schedules may not be readily apparent, resulting in the wrong doctor being called when an emergency department patient is in need. When delays occur due to scheduling snafus, care gaps emerge. Because it takes longer to reach the correct on-call physician, it takes longer for patients to be treated. This phenomenon can have a snowball effect by reducing throughput and increasing overcrowding.

In contrast, when physician communication technology is employed, physician on-call schedules and contact information can be updated in real time. When stored in the cloud and accessed via the web, those same schedules are available to any authorized user within or outside of a facility. As a result, physician schedules are always up-to-date, errors are minimized, and patients are seen more quickly.

Closing emergency department care gaps requires a concerted effort by medical and administrative staff. Adopting physician communication technology is a sound strategy that helps ensure timely patient care.

MDsyncNET’s physician communication software helps hospitals around the U.S. create real-time on-call schedules that increase efficiency, boost physician satisfaction, and enhance patient care. For more information, call 888-506-5061.

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