Kanta-Häme Central Hospital (KHSHP) was facing long backlogs of patients waiting for care that was exacerbated by the poor availability of skilled nurses. This situation led to an overworked staff and the need to reduce the number of beds. In addition, KHSHP was losing an ever-increasing share of its budget to third parties, since the hospital was required to pay for patients seeking treatment elsewhere due to long waiting times at KHSHP. This devastating spiral was accentuated by poor access.
NHG’s well-tested process for optimizing patient flow – named Pride & Joy – was implemented in the surgery and medicine wards, the two largest departments serving the highest volume of patients. The first goal was to free up capacity to improve access and reduce the burden on staff by reducing the average length of stay (LOS) via reductions in unnecessary disruptions and delays. During the implementation, both internal and external sources of disruption and delay were identified. By eliminating internal causes of disruption including better synchronization of resources and some minor focused improvements, the hospital was able to reduce the LOS by 11% within 14 weeks.
The implementation made visible and created a currency for showing the effect that poor access to follow-up care at community hospitals had on overall flow, in terms of delays leading to a significantly reduced patient throughput.
The project also kick-started the journey to eliminate external causes: The community hospitals were involved by being given full visibility to the time-based patient plans for patients in need of follow-up care from the time the patients were admitted to the time they were ready for discharge. This was done via an interface solution that is one aspect of Pride & Joy’s software.
In addition to helping the community hospitals prepare for incoming patients, this solution increased the sharing of patient status information – allowing the parties to identify and resolve differences of opinion regarding the destinations to where patients should be discharged. Previously, these differences in opinion sometimes resulted in patient transfers being delayed. As a result, the average LOS for patients going through the surgery and medicine departments at KHSHP was reduced by 17% in ten months and 22% in 14 months.
See also KHSHP’s video.