CASA GRANDE — Banner Casa Grande Medical Center has reduced its average emergency patient wait times by more than 45 minutes over the last couple of months.
The hospital began partnering with TeamHealth, a physician management company, in November in that area.
Banner Health reported on Monday it has already seen results in speeding discharge times and raising patient satisfaction.
After one month of working with TeamHealth, the hospital saw its average wait time for seeing a provider in the emergency room drop from 66 to 19 minutes from October to November.
The hospital reported its overall, year-to-date average wait time for seeing a provider was 48 minutes in 2016.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the national average wait time for seeing a doctor was 58.1 minutes in 2009.
The medical center also lowered its average time to discharge patients in the emergency room by two hours.
Kevin Light, the Emergency Department’s nursing director, explained the lower times are a result of a new vetting system; patients are now separated depending on whether they can physically stand or not.
Those with serious ailments and who cannot stand go through the regular routine of checking into the 16-bed emergency room.
Patients with more minor conditions are processed through a new system Light described as like an “assembly line.” The standing patients are checked by a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant before going to another area where they wait to have lab work or tests done.
After that’s done, they proceed to another area to find out lab results and the best course of treatment.
Light said the old system would have had the standing patients sitting in the waiting room, hoping for one of the 16 beds to open up. This new system gets the treatment process moving in a more timely fashion.
The Emergency Department has recently added members to its medical staff, Light said, so that at least two physicians are on the floor at any time rather than one.
Post-treatment surveys gathered by the hospital have patients reporting an overall more pleasant experience with medical staff and more are recommending the hospital.
Light said he was surprised by the results already achieved by the hospital. These times are important to improving a hospital’s efficiency, he added, since they can impact the doctor or nurse’s workload.
“Our new Emergency Department process reduces the stress of our staff as well as the patient,” said Rona Curphy, CEO of Banner Casa Grande Medical Center, “allowing us to offer excellent patient care in half of the time.”
The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reported Arizona’s median time patients wait before seeing a health care professional in emergency rooms as 26 minutes, according to data samples collected between April 2015 and March 2016.
CMS frequently gathers data on Medicare-certified hospitals, like Banner Casa Grande, and posts statistics on its online Hospital Compare application.
CMS reported Banner Casa Grande as having a median door-to-doctor wait time of 32 minutes, based on numbers abstracted from samples of medical records before March 2016. It is unclear from the data how many samples were from Medicare-sponsored patients.
Other Banner Health hospitals reported success in lowering wait times. The health network’s hospital in Payson reportedly dropped its average time to see a clinician from 40 to 23 minutes.