Emergency rooms have earned a reputation for less than stellar customer service. Patients expecting immediate care for their emergency often have to wait an hour or more to be seen by a physician. The longer the wait, the greater the health risk to the patient. Many (2.5%) simply leave. Some even die without being seen.
Accurately staffing acute care centers is challenging because the number of patients presenting at an emergency room can vary by as much as 50% each day.
EmOpti makes it possible for acute care facilities in the same network to “share” their clinicians through the power of telehealth. Within 10 minutes of arrival, patients connect with a physician in a remote command center via video chat on a tablet. EmOpti’s platform integrates with the EHR, enabling seamless sharing of demographic and vital data, rapid ordering of tests, and simplified admissions and discharges.
Health systems that run the EmOpti platform reduce patient wait times, improve patient experience and throughput metrics, and achieve a 10x return on their investment. EmOpti is expanding its telehealth offerings to more inpatient floors, further improving efficiencies and decreasing exposure.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, EmOpti provided their flagship High Volume Telehealth Platform for ED Intake & Rapid Discharge for free, to improve throughput and protect providers from COVID-19. Redox integrations made the rapid 7-day deployment possible at each location.
EmOpti: Acute Care Optimization
EmOpti improves patient flow in busy acute care facilities by using remote video consults to improve many care processes. In emergency departments, use for “tele-triage” makes the most out of a health system’s available staff across all locations. EmOpti’s EHR-integrated tele-triage technology optimizes staffing in emergency rooms for high and low volume days, saving providers thousands of dollars in payroll and lost revenue, and improving patient care and satisfaction.
Traditional ER Staffing Models Lead to Waste, Unnecessary Mortality
Emergencies are, by their nature, unpredictable. Emergency rooms do their best to staff appropriately, but the actual number of patient arrivals can vary by as much as 50% from what is expected. Despite the best planning, emergency rooms end up being overstaffed some days, and understaffed others.
Overstaffing raises payroll costs and keeps providers from operating efficiently at the top of their licenses. On the other hand, understaffing ERs creates stressful environments for both staff and patients. Patients who wait too long to be seen suffer greater health risks, higher morbidity, and longer hospital stays. Some patients simply give up and leave the ER altogether. In fact, the average rate of patients who walk out without being seen is 2.5% — that’s 600 walk-out patients or more each year for a busy ER. Patients who leave without seeing a doctor not only put their lives at risk, but they also cost the hospital in poor satisfaction ratings and lost revenue.
After twenty years as an emergency physician, EmOpti founder, Ed Barthell, M.D., was amazed by how many stories he heard about patients who died in waiting rooms. He says, “It’s a dirty industry secret that rarely gets publicized. As an emergency clinician, I was convinced we were doing a good job, but the care model was structured in a way that caused us to waste lots of money, and ultimately mortality was higher than needed – people died because of the accepted norms. Now is the time to fix that.”
Current Triage Methods are Imperfect, Tech Carts Inefficient
One solution to get patients seen faster is to place doctors or physician’s assistants on the front line to manage triage. But the payroll cost to do this would be unsustainable for many hospitals.
Telehealth technology carts may be available for some ERs, but they are traditionally expensive, require extensive IT support and hours of training for staff. They may create shadow medical records because they do not integrate with EHRs. Instead of gaining efficiencies, they add more work.
EmOpti Technology Optimizes Staffing, Reduces Patient Wait Times
EmOpti makes it possible for health care systems to offer ER consultations using a remote command center staffed by clinicians in the network. This solves the problem of one hospital in the network being too busy, while another is overstaffed.
Soon after patients arrive, they connect with an on-site triage nurse and a remote physician via a tablet computer. EmOpti’s EHR integrated technology enables the physicians at multiple tele-triage sites to quickly gather key medical information, speak with patients via a video screen, and implement the next steps of care, such as testing, additional consults, admission or rapid discharge.
“Facilities are no longer disparate silos,” Barthell explains. “They are an integrated system combining virtual and on-site resources. This improves productivity and enables more intelligent and efficient care.”
Patients report a strong preference for face-to-face video technology over texting a doctor or speaking on the phone. Video also dramatically improves interpretation accuracy.
Not only are patients happier with video consults, but staff are able to work more efficiently and at the top of their degrees. An on-site clinician typically performs 6-10 consults per hour. But when the clinician works from the remote center, they can perform 16-18 per hour. Remote consultations reduce the time spent walking from room to room and eliminate the need to change personal protective equipment (PPE) after each patient.
Acute Care Centers Who Adopt EmOpti See Huge ROI
- Decrease door to provider time from 40+ minutes to 10-12 minutes
- Cut patient Leave Without Being Seen rates in half
- Raise Press Ganey scores from 25% to 85%
- Reduce on-site labor costs by 20%
- Double the number of consults per hour
- See 10x return on investment within the first year
- Decrease exposure risk and unnecessary staff contact with patients
Integration Key to EmOpti Efficiency and Provider Adoption
With hundreds of patients requiring consult requests for everything from triage, language, social services, and behavior, EmOpti needed a clear way to manage the traffic and keep the workflows running as quickly as possible. EMR integration makes this happen.
EmOpti acts as a seamless extension of the EMR. The caregiver in the command center immediately sees the data entered by the triage nurse requesting the consult, such as the patient’s name, vital signs, and chief complaint. The data syncs between EmOpti and the EMR without requiring redundant entries, which helps with rapid queuing and decision making.
“Our goal is efficiency. We’re sensitive to every click and unnecessary interaction,” says Barthell. “Without integration, staff would constantly have to retype patient data. Our solution has to work fast and be intertwined with care workflows, especially when hundreds of patients are receiving consults every day. Otherwise, it’s slower and makes things worse instead of better.”
The EmOpti platform was developed so staff could easily learn the new system. In fact, the platform is so intuitively integrated with the EMR that nurses are ready to begin virtual consults after just three minutes of training.
Redox as Integration Partner Helps EmOpti Expand Quickly to New Markets
Barthell knew from the beginning that outsourcing integration would allow his team to focus on workflows, development, and implementation. EmOpti was one of Redox’s earliest adopters.
“Redox had the integration expertise, in a cost-effective and fast way,” he says. “It was one more set of technical skills I didn’t have to hire. The price structure was appealing and cheaper than what I could do internally. Plus, I liked the personality of the company.”
Initially attracted to Redox’s depth of experience with Epic, EmOpti now benefits from the breadth of Redox’s connections and 24/7 support.
“When we pitch to health systems, Redox is already ahead of us,” Barthell says. “So when we say, ‘We use Redox as our integration engineers,’ their IT team already has a confidence level of working with Redox and we get the work done quickly. Redox’s success has made it even easier for us. Working with Redox has been a collaborative relationship. We need high dependability, high reliability, and we need it 24/7. We’ve grown and learned together.”
Redox integrations also help EmOpti bring health systems online in as little as two weeks. “Redox continues to be efficient and fast. We had three health systems come online in the last eight weeks,” Barthell says. “If we did each interface integration on our own, it might take a year.”
Moving Beyond ERs: What’s Next for EmOpti
EmOpti adopters see profound improvement in the efficiency and safety of their emergency departments.
“Our flagship Emergency Department Telehealth Platform enables physicians to triage and treat patients remotely to speed flow, whether EDs are seeing normal volumes or even low volumes,” Barthell explains. “And in the COVID-19 world, this approach helps EDs manage patient surges, reduces provider exposure to infected patients, and allows quarantined clinicians to work remotely and still contribute to patient care. Having Redox allows us to integrate the demographics and vital signs from the EHR to facilitate rounding and queue management for responding clinicians performing virtual consultations.”
Their success in ERs has EmOpti looking to improve efficiencies on other patient floors, too. Virtual rounding could be possible with a video portal in every treatment room and could reduce unnecessary entrances to the patients’ room by 50%.
“Healthcare has changed so quickly. People will expect a lot of services to be provided by remote video connections. The new normal is coming. Video home care will be more sophisticated,” Barthell predicts. “We’re here to help facilities run in high efficiency and productivity. We’re very focused on saving health systems costs. We have ambitious growth plans and Redox’s success has made that even easier for us.”