Team-Tested Practices

Centralize Transport and Keep Patients Moving

Team dispatched transporters from one location and improved service

Getting patients where they need to go is essential to the operation of a hospital.

But the process of moving them around for tests, X-rays and other services can be a major source of delay, congestion and patient dissatisfaction.

Members of the Inpatient Transport team at the San Jose Medical Center were assigned to specific departments and different floors. Some locations were busier than others, and some transporters were tasked with more work.

And the waits for patients were at best unpredictable. Nurses and technicians often resorted to pushing occupied beds themselves, rather than waiting for a transporter. Workplace injuries rose and attendance became problematic.

San Jose transporter Dharmesh Patel lobbied for a centralized dispatch system, where calls would come into one place and transporters would wait for assignments. The unit-based team agreed to the project, and it worked.

After the change, transporters completed 68 percent more patient trips per day. Timing also improved. Transporters reached the patient’s location within five minutes of the call 90 percent of the time, as the average response time went from about four minutes to 2.46 minutes.

Savings were found in both reduced overtime and sick days.

With fewer nurses and technicians chipping in to transport patients, the team shaved an estimated $200,000 in annual costs for less overtime. In two years, workplace injuries dropped from seven to one, and sick days decreased from a rate of more than 11 days per employee to save another $15,000.

“Overtime is down, sick time is down and the patients are happy,” Patel says.

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