Big changes at two of Saskatoon’s emergency departments (ED) are resulting in lower wait times for patients at triage and registration. The new processes have been implemented at Royal University and Saskatoon City Hospitals. And in April, those changes will improve wait times at St. Paul’s.

“For early days, this is exceeding expectations,” says Patti Simonar, Director of Emergency and Critical Care for Saskatoon Health Region. “It’s a three-year plan of process improvements.”

Patients are registering and being triaged in only six minutes compared to 15 minutes before the EDs implemented some of the process changes.

The improvements include a parallel triage and registration process for patients. Now, when someone arrives at the ED he is greeted and assessed by a team of employees rather than seen individually and asked a separate set of questions. The RUH ED has also implemented an electronic display and tracking board – part of the Sunrise Clinical Manager (SCM) technology project. Staff enter information about a patient’s visit into the ED computers. That information can then be tracked by care providers and followed by a physician to provide the best care and discharge possible.

Electronic tracking board at RUH electronically improves Emergency Department patient flow.

The overall goals of the project are to minimize wait times for patients, standardize the triage, registration and care process, and observe ED flow as patients are treated and either discharged or admitted.

“There are a lot fewer wasted steps,” says Dr. James Stempien, the Region’s Department Head of Emergency Medicine. “I don’t have to wait for a patient to get into a bed and wait for a piece of paper to arrive. I can see them right away,” he adds, referring to the previous hard-copy process that the ED once relied on.

The electronic tracking system also provides real time data that wasn’t available before, so information on patient acuity and wait times can be identified and analyzed, with a
focus on transforming the patient experience.

“Now our work is from registration to the time the patient leaves,” says Simonar. Saskatoon’s EDs will continue with a series of 21 recommendations to address the growing need for ED care.

“There’s not one magic bullet to fix EDs,” she adds. “It’s many things.”

The Region is asking for patient feedback through postcard surveys and partnering with Health Quality Council on a patient experience survey that began in January 2011.