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The emergency department is often considered the gateway to the hospital and must be prepared for any situation. It’s impossible to predict medical emergencies, and this can sometimes lead to overcrowding in the department. Typically, emergency department patients can be split into three categories; patients who need emergency care, patients who worry they might need it, and patients who don’t need it at all. Patients who don’t need emergency care are a staple of emergency department life, so even though the ED is meant for emergency care, they must still find ways to make sure all patients get the support they need. Emergency departments need to be as efficient as possible in order to make sure everyone is taken care of, so here are a few ways in which emergency departments can raise efficiency. 

Addressing Avoidable Visits

A great way to make the ED more efficient is to find ways to address avoidable visits from patients. A popular method of trying to handle avoidable visits is to try and coordinate with primary care providers but sometimes this isn’t enough. Often times, having that relationship doesn’t do the trick because the primary care physician may just not have any open availability. Unavailable primary care physicians will often recommend going to the ER if it’s something the client can’t wait on as well, which doesn’t help the situation. Another way to address avoidable visits is to use urgent care centres. Many urgent care centres are connected to primary care physician’s and can send patients on the path to coordinated care.

Optimizing Flow

There can be a lot of bottlenecks when it comes to the flow of the emergency department, and one of the top ones is transferring patients to inpatient floors. There are a variety of tactics that can be used to address this and usually, it requires the assistance of other departments. Sometimes capacity isn’t the issue though. Factors such as discharges and ED admissions can play a role as well, and sometimes back processes up. Common tactics to increase the flow include a fast track or split flow for low acuity patients, streamlined registration for new patients and immediate bedding.

Patient Knowledge

You’d be surprised to find this out, but not many patients are aware of their options when it comes to a medical emergency. Many just think of the emergency department as their first choice and go there immediately. One role that healthcare providers have been trying to fill in order to increase efficiency in the ER is making sure that patients are aware of there options, and making sure they’re receiving care in the right setting. Many hospitals come together with other agencies for issues such as mental health or substance abuse in order to share resources and find ways to make sure patients get the proper care they need, in the setting that would be best for their situation.