With more patients using the ED as their primary entrance into the healthcare system, many EDs struggle to optimize patient flow. A survey of 300 hospital leaders conducted by HealthLeaders Media found that 43% of respondents consider ED patient flow as their biggest strategic challenge.
To address this problem, more EDs are adding staff and resources to their fast-track units to treat patients with non-emergent conditions more quickly. Studies have shown that fast track units improve patient flow, decrease patient wait times, lower the average length of stay, and contribute to patient satisfaction and revenue goals. Fast track programs are staffed by a dedicated team that treats patients with minor conditions that might otherwise be managed in a primary care setting, such as minor viral infections, superficial wounds, minor allergic reactions, broken bones, animal bites, and minor burns.
These patients make up a significant portion of the ED population. It is estimated that 60%-80% of patients who present to the ED do so for non-emergent or even minor health problems. Here at Barton Associates, our team has seen a significant increase in demand for emergency medicine nurse practitioners from hospital ED managers who are looking to increase staff in their fast-track units. According to an article published in the American Journal for Nurse Practitioners, the patient-focused training nurse practitioners receive makes them strong candidates for treating patients with non-emergent conditions. Nurse practitioners are able to treat minor injuries, prescribe medications, and counsel patients on disease management.
Nurse practitioners have also shown proficiency in cross-cultural care, making them ideal for interacting with diverse populations and uninsured patients who are more likely to leave the ED without being seen. Further study is needed to confirm the positive impact nurse practitioners have on treating non-emergent patients in the ED. However, an Australian study that found ED patient flow improved when nurse practitioners were utilized to see non-emergent cases because it allowed physicians to focus on more complex cases.
Here at Barton, we have a strong network of locum tenens emergency medicine nurse practitioners who are ready to help improve throughput at your facility. For more information visit our facilities page.