The “flow” of patients through the hospital can sometimes resemble a 10-lane expressway at gridlock, said Christopher Kim, MD, MBA, SFHM, associate professor of internal medicine and associate medical director of quality and safety at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. That is, there’s no flow at all.
Thursday at HM17, Dr. Kim and a panel of experts will lead small workshops of audience members on how to put the “go” back in the flow. The session, “Hospitalists as Leaders in Patient Flow and Hospital Throughput,” will begin at 10 a.m.
The panelists will include Gabrielle Berger, MD, MHA, SFHM, Eduardo Margo, MD, and Anneliese Schleyer, MD, SFHM, all from the University of Washington; Aaron Hamilton, MD, FHM, from the Cleveland Clinic; Vikas Parekh, MD, SFHM, from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; and Emily Wang, MD, from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, South Texas Veterans Health Care System.
“As hospitalists, we are at the sharp end of this problem and are often asked to be key members of project teams assembled to tackle this challenge of patient flow and capacity management,” said Dr. Kim. “We look forward to an interactive session with our audience members.”
The session will address expedited discharge, the idea of the “hospitalist quarterback,” a kind of in-house controller of patient flow; facilitators of transferring to and from outside hospitals; focused efforts on reducing length of stay; establishing short-stay units to enhance patient flow; and participating in continuous process improvement teams, Dr. Kim said.
There will be several small group workshops interspersed with presentations of background content by the workshop facilitators, who represent a wide range of geographic and care settings. Dr. Kim said they have “all experienced the challenges of patient flow and throughput at their hospitals and health systems and have taken leadership roles to address these issues at their medical centers.”
“We anticipate a highly engaging session, where audience members will be divided into different teams, and each team will be tasked to identify specific interventions and challenges in managing the patient flow and capacity management initiative,” said Dr. Berger, associate medical director for inpatient capacity at the University of Washington. “Audience members will work within their own teams, guided by the workshop facilitators, and after the teams come up with their ideas on each of the topics covered in this workshop, each team will have the opportunity to present their best ideas for sharing and feedback.”
The session comes at a time when hospitals are tapping into hospitalists’ experience.
“Many hospitals across the country are challenged with high-occupancy states, creating pressures and external challenges to serve patients’ needs,” said Dr. Parekh, associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan. “Hospitalists in their daily work have great familiarity with how hospitals run and where the ‘bottlenecks’ are that [block] patient throughput in their organization. Recognizing this experience and talent for enabling patient flow, many hospitals have turned to hospitalists – and in some cases, resident trainees – to lead or contribute to the hospital’s initiatives to enhance patient throughput.”
The importance of patient flow goes beyond efficiency, Dr. Kim said. Hospital staff who work during high-occupancy days feel the brunt of the burden, and this can lead to patient safety problems.
“We will address the importance of optimal communication between providers and staff, both within hospitals and with outside hospitals to ensure patient safety and staff concerns are appropriately addressed,” he said. “This is a topic that affects everyone at the medical center, and so we believe that this topic is applicable to a broad audience. We hope the participants will be able to facilitate a dialogue with a diverse group of leaders at their hospitals.”
Hospitalists as Leaders in Patient Flow and Hospital Throughput
Thursday, 10:00–11:30 a.m.