Case Studies

University of Colorado Hospital 

Smoother moves
UCH IS NEWER, LARGER, AND FASTER WITH CROTHALL PT

The healthcare industry looks to health systems like Crothall Healthcare client University of Colorado Hospital (UCH) for innovative advances in patient care. Located in Aurora, Colorado, this ambitious health leader was named the #1 Academic Medical Center in quality in the nation in 2011 and 2012 by the University Health System Consortium (which is an alliance of 118 academic medical centers; 289 of their affiliated hospitals represent the nation’s leading academic medical centers). 

Always striving to better the patient experience, in April, UCH opened a brand new, state-of-the-art emergency department that aims to set a new standard for emergency care. A highlight of the ED’s roster of innovations is the totally redesigned patient flow, which has virtually eliminated backups in the waiting room. Now, they direct patients immediately to the appropriate patient care providers upon admission. Accomplishing this has required out-of-the-box thinking across all disciplines, including Crothall’s patient transport team. From the very earliest planning stages of the new ED, Crothall was a key member of the groups UCH turned to for help in meeting goals of faster, better, more efficient care. 

“We went through a whole process improvement project and looked at everything,” recalled ED Nurse Manager April Koehler. This included giving Crothall’s patient transport team all the data and projections about trips that would need to be covered in the new, larger facility, and then tapping into Crothall’s expertise to determine how they could help get the job done. 

RIGHT PEOPLE, RIGHT JOBS

As a longtime provider of EVS and Patient Transport at UCH, Crothall is well-integrated into the main hospital, but was handling only about 5-10 percent of transports in the ED before the new facility opened in April. Crothall’s first recommendation, after reviewing all the data, was to add 10 FTEs who would be dedicated specifically to patient transfers within the ED, recalled Director of Patient Transport Chris Sweat. This would free up nurses and techs— who had been handling many of these transfers on their own—to focus more on patients, rather than constantly being interrupted to run a patient for an X-Ray, CT scan, or other tests. 

Crothall’s recommendation was embraced by the hospital administrators, who were able to redirect resources from other areas to fund the new patient transport spots. 

“Our goal at the end of the day is to run as efficiently as we can, based around patient needs,” noted VP of Clinical and Support Services Derek Rushing. “One way to do this is to get the right people doing the right jobs.” 

FINE-TUNING

With the right amount of transporters in the ED, a couple of other key changes were implemented to streamline the PT process. 

  • First, the ED dispatch team was relocated from the basement to the southeast pod of the new ED area, so that they are now more visible and accessible. 
  • Second, transfer requests within the ED were separated from the TeleTracking system that handles moves within the main hospital. Instead, patient transfer requests in the ED are simply made via phone or radio. 

“Now, if a charge nurse needs to send a patient for a CT scan, the transporter is sitting just steps away and can self-dispatch it,” explained Crothall Resident Regional Manager Jack Rupert. “The response time is almost instantaneous.” 

All of these changes have made the system more user-friendly for the ED staff and more responsive to the fast pace of the emergency environment. 

“It has been a huge help for us,” said ED Manager Koehler. 

As an important cog in a very dynamic and well-thought-out emergency department wheel, patient transport is helping UCH to redefine the way people have traditionally viewed emergency care. With all of the changes that have been put in place, including the enhancements in patient transport, patients are enjoying shorter stays—as little as 15 minutes, in some cases—and by all indications, an overall more positive experience. 

GREATER PRODUCTIVITY

The one compelling outcome of the changes is that Crothall’s productivity has increased, even as the team’s volume of trips is rising significantly, noted Crothall Director of PT Sweat. For example, the total hospital volume for the period of April 21 to May 18 was up by almost 5,000 visits over a comparable period in March. 

“ Crothall does a good job of integrating into our organization— that is one of the biggest compliments a contractor can get.” 

– Derek Rushing VP of Clinical and Support Services

During those same weeks (from April 21 to May 18), Crothall handled 3,036 trips in the ED alone. Of those: 

  • 89.44% of trips were answered in under 5 minutes from request to arrival. 
  • 65.18% of trips were completed within 10 minutes. 

Beyond the numbers, ED Manager Koehler noted that nurses in the ED are now beginning to view the Crothall transporters as part of the team—which is something that had been happening for a long time in the main hospital. 

“Crothall does a good job of integrating into our organization,” said VP Rushing, noting that many of the staff members at UCH might not even realize they are a contracted service provider. 

“That,” VP Rushing said, “is one of the biggest compliments a contractor can get.”