Three strategies for the savvy CEO and CFO

How can you best transform your emergency department into an asset? Dr. Derik King, division president of EM/HM/eHealth Services at Schumacher Clinical Partners, recently tackled the topic during Becker's Hospital Review's 5th Annual CEO + CFO Roundtable on Nov. 7, 2016.

According to Dr. King, the transformation of an ED from drain to asset begins with understanding that the emergency department is the crux for value-based purchasing -- and the key to making sure hospitals and providers advance healthcare going forward, said Dr. King.

He outlined three strategies for making such a transformation possible:

1. Change Perception of the ED

Dr. King cited the fact that the ED is the front door of the hospital, responsible for 50 to 70 percent of its admissions.

Equally importantly, he noted, quality measures of hospital performance and the HCAHPS survey on patient experience and satisfaction begin in the ED. Change management begins in the ED as well, in the form of implementation of EMR platforms and other initiatives -- all of which are reasons to optimize the ED to contribute to the hospital's success.

2. Don’t Fall into the Fast-Care-for-All Trap

Many hospitals and EDs unwittingly focus and cast blame on the minor illnesses and injuries that come through the ED. But research shows that eliminating half of all ED visits for minor illnesses or injuries only saves hospitals 0.2 to 0.8 percent of healthcare costs.

That said, making a full-on commitment to fast care won’t benefit all ED patients -- and worse, might do a disservice to many; discharges and transitions to other care facilities can often result in complications and readmissions.

It’s important to understand that fast care is not always ideal care for all patients, said Dr. King: "Matter of fact, there are some patients we should take more time with and treat in different care settings ... but you have to commit to that. You have to give the providers the staff. You have to be willing to accept that.” Doing so, he said, will eventually translate to revenue over time.

3. Embrace the ED as a Safety Net

Lack of available primary care is the bane of many patients across the country, Dr. King said. As such, the ED becomes the only place to go for treatment. For this reason, it's important that providers not only deliver quality safety-net care but also educate patients upon discharge.

"We should teach them where to go and tell them how to access other pieces of the healthcare system," he said.

To read more about the strategies Dr. King discussed in his presentation, visit Becker's Hospital Review, which crafted an article based on Dr. King's approach: 3 Strategies to Transform Your ED into an Asset Not a Money Drain.