Hancock Regional Hospital implements new flow system to cut down on ER wait times

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GREENFIELD, Ind. -- Emergency room wait times can be long and stressful for you and your family when you need immediate care. One hospital is looking to cut down on some of that stress by creating a new flow system, allowing patients to be seen by a doctor sooner.

Hancock Regional Hospital doctors, nurses, and technology staff developed the Split Flow system. It works by using triage for patients and determining if they are in critical need of care or fall under the fast track system.

Under a fast track system, patients with illnesses like earaches, simple sprains, and a general fever will be brought into a room for an evaluation. Then, they'll wait in a results waiting room before being taken to a treatment room for further evaluation.

Right now, the average wait time in the waiting room at Hancock Regional Hospital is about 25 minutes, according to Medicare.gov. For larger hospitals like IU Health and Eskenazi, the wait time can be between 16 to 45 minutes, according to Medicare's statistics.

The new system allows patients in more critical need of care at Hancock Regional Hospital to have open rooms and beds, improving their wait time as well.

Jeff Kruzil, the hospital's performance improvement specialist said doctors, nurses, and other experts helped to develop the new system. Right now, it's in a pilot program after being started just 3 weeks ago.

"We took data that we have and worked in collaboration with experts to look to see if there were opportunities to improve that," Kruzil said.

So far, the system is working. Since the pilot programs start, the hospital has been able to decrease the total stay time (when a patient enters to when they leave to go home) from nearly 3 hours to just about 2.5. That number is on par with the state's average.

While the percentage of patients who choose to leave the ER due to wait times is low, Kruzil said they're taking a proactive approach to make sure no one has to leave.

"All those scenarios can occur if you have lots of people and there’s no rooms available and I think projects like this are ways that we can really try to address that when it occurs and move people as efficiently as possible without sacrificing their level of care," he said.

The new system not only helps improve patient care, it also provides a better and more efficient flow for doctors and nurses. Emergency Department Director, Stephanie Long said the hospital is committed to making sure everyone has the best care and treatment.

"We know our patients are happier because they don’t have to wait as long. Nobody wants to come to the emergency room. The less time you have to spend here, it’s always more positive," Long said.

You can find out the average wait time for your nearby hospital by clicking here.

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