It seems logical that if there are long waits in the Emergency Department, the answer is to improve care delivery in that part of the health system. As it turns out, however, this approach is not the most effective or efficient solution. Research has proven that wait times in Emergency are, in fact, a symptom of congestion elsewhere in the health care system.
By using computer modelling to “virtually” test various possible interventions to improve flow, HQC has determined the best solution is to enhance safe, efficient transitions out of hospital. Fundamental to these transitions are strong teams in both hospital and community settings.
Many patients remain in hospital after they’re ready to be discharged, because the services or supports they need are not readily available in the community. These community supports could include home visits by nurses, nurse practitioners, community paramedics, pharmacists, and therapists, and access to chronic disease management programs.
Studies show you can safely shorten hospital stays and prevent readmissions by changing how care teams work together in both the hospital and in the community, to ensure patients move between the two care settings in a consistent, coordinated way. HQC has begun working with its health system partners to apply this evidence, through an approach called Connected Care.
Connected Care has three key components:
- Connected Hospital Care: Research shows that hospital patients who receive team-based, collaborative care experience better care coordination, shorter lengths of stay, improved health outcomes, and higher satisfaction. One example of this team-based approach to care is called an Accountable Care Unit (ACU). Several ACUs are in place or in development in Saskatoon and Regina, and are already showing signs of improved teamwork, communication, and patient outcomes. Both centres report shorter lengths of stays on their Accountable Care Units, which is easing hospital overcapacity pressures.
- Connected Community Care: Community based teams work collaboratively to prevent admissions to the hospital, prevent premature admissions into Long Term Care, help patients have more timely discharge from the hospital, and maximize the time patients can live independently in their homes. Patients are supported to manage their care in the community, and will be admitted to hospital only when they need this level of service.
- High-Quality Care Transitions: An evidence-informed approach to ensuing patients, and their relevant information, are transitioned safely and seamlessly across all care settings. Improved transitions between the community and hospital will help patients regain independence and reduce the number of hospital readmissions, and help ensure people get the right health care, from the right providers, at the right time in the right location.