New program yields positive changes in accessibility

July 15, 2016  //  FOUND IN: UMHS News,

When it comes to providing specialty care and services, our doctors, nurses and other health care providers are experts in their fields who make our health system a unique resource in Michigan. Patients are often transferred to U-M when other hospitals cannot offer a higher level of care.

In the past, accepting transfer patients into UMHS could be a time-consuming and challenging process, staffed by many different physicians who were trying to fit the decision-making process into their already busy workloads. On average, it took more than five hours just to make a decision to admit the patient or not.

Fortunately, times are changing. A new process implemented July 11 takes the decision-making process down from five hours to just 30 minutes.

The new patient transfer process is expedited by implementing an Admitting Officer of the Day (AOD) program at UH and CVC. The AOD is a senior attending physician who has the authority to make a quick decision about whether we can accept a patient transfer from another hospital. The role is filled by a small number of attending physicians on a rotating basis.

These changes give our patients the specialized care they need with the support of a rapid, reliable and expert decision-making process.

Improving response times

The new program is aimed at giving an outside hospital (OSH) physician a quicker response as to whether or not UMHS can accept his or her patient.

“Our physicians felt this was a critical problem to solve,” said Dr. Jeff Desmond, Chief Medical Officer. “They wanted to reduce delays which could have an impact on patients and referring physicians who want access to our care and expertise”.

The new system allows for continued individual contact between physicians and their referring counterparts. “This is not intended to disrupt existing physician-to-physician relationships,” Dr. Desmond said. “We want our referring MDs to continue building positive relationships and trust with us.”

With AODs managing the response during a quick phone call with the OSH, decisions are expected to be made in less than 30 minutes.

When necessary, the AOD may reach out to UMHS subspecialists for input on a decision.

“It is critical that [specialists] respond immediately to AOD pages for the system to work,” Dr. Desmond said. If a transfer case cannot be discussed promptly with a specialist, the AOD has the authority to make the best decision possible with the information available.

This new process will go a long way toward our ultimate goal of providing timely, high quality care and allow us to create stronger relationships with our referring physicians as we provide better services at UMHS, putting the health system in a position to continue growing as a leader in specialized care and a valued community resource.

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