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September 27, 2018

Lessons Learned from ED Waits and Patient Flow Initiative: New discussion paper on improving patient flow system wide

Reducing wait times in the emergency department is a complex challenge. A team at the Health Quality Council spent the last five years working to understand and address this problem – which, it turns out, has more to do with what’s going on elsewhere in the system than what’s happening in the ED. Their efforts resulted in the new provincial Connected Care Strategy, which is now a key priority in the strategic plans of both the Saskatchewan Health Authority and the Ministry of Health.

The ED Waits and Patient Flow team identified 10 lessons they learned through their work. HQC has pulled together these insights into a discussion paper intended to provide guidance to, and foster discussion among, health system leaders and providers on how we move care “closer to home” and improve patient flow across the entire health care system.

Underpinning all 10 lessons is the need to reduce our historic reliance on hospital care by strengthening how we provide care in the community. 

Here is a sneak peek at five of the key lessons:

  1. Continuity of relationships, management, and information is essential as people move through the health care system. 
  2. Teams of care providers who understand each other’s roles, communicate well, and resolve conflict effectively are critical in providing high-quality safe care.
  3. Intermediate care teams that are well connected with strong primary care teams are needed to bridge the gap between intense hospital care and basic home care. The need for this type of care is growing as the population ages and people’s care needs become more complex. 
  4. Big gains don’t always require big dollars: Preventing functional decline for patients while they are in hospital is proving to be a relatively easy “win” in Canada and around the world.
  5. While our biggest gains will come from reducing hospitals’ overcapacity, there are opportunities to improve operations within the emergency departments, by optimizing staff scheduling, lab and diagnostic imaging processes, and consultations.

To learn more about all 10 lessons, download the discussion paper or view our QI Power Hour webinar entitled 10 “Simple” Ways to Improve Patient Care: Lessons Learned from Saskatchewan’s Emergency Department Waits and Patient Flow Initiative.