Transferring “Boarders” Could Save Millions


A pilot project that transferred “boarded” patients from one hospital’s ED to an inpatient bed at another nearby hospital in the same health system suggests that the concept could save hospitals millions.

“Improvement in Emergency Department Treatment Capacity: A Health System Integration Approach” was the subject of an oral presentation at HM11 in Dallas. Lead researcher Diego Martinez-Vasquez, MD, MPH, FACP, CPE, medical director for clinical resource utilization at Franklin Square Hospital Center in Baltimore, conducted the research in the University of Maryland medical system.

In the project, 265 patients who consented were transferred 1.3 miles to a sister hospital. Without “boarders”—admitted patients held in the ED—Dr. Martinez-Vasquez’s team found that the referring hospital could have regained enough capacity for an additional 2.9 patients per day. The project also showed median net revenue of $520,000 for the referring hospital and $1.9 million for the accepting hospital.

“The hospitalist group at the receiving hospital was the instrument that facilitated this program,” Dr. Martinez-Vasquez says. “But really what kept my attention was that healthcare systems sometimes don’t use resources effectively. So when I looked at the problem that this particular hospital was having regarding increased boarding time and decreased treatment capacity, I said, ‘Well, one way to resolve this issue is to develop a process that connects two system hospitals and their bed resources.’ ”