Bringing the ED to the C-suite
MEDHOST seeks financial improvement through more efficient throughput
LAS VEGAS – It's often said that the emergency department is the "front door" of the hospital. And recent years have seen more people than ever making their way through that entry.
"ED volumes have skyrocketed over the past two years, while the number of EDs has stayed consistent," said Craig Herrod, president and CEO of Addison, Texas-based MEDHOST, in an interview at HIMSS12 last month.
And not only are patient volumes 10 to 12 percent higher, patients' acuity level is higher, too. Compounding that? Decreasing compensation across the board. "For the first time since the early '90s you're seeing the gap between private payer and government payer at an all time [high]," said Herrod. Those Medicaid patients can be costly for cash-strapped hospitals.
With healthcare reform looming, it's a probability that hospitals will soon be seeing EDs inundated even more so. A decade ago, the numbers were "12 percent of ED patients admitted, 38 percent of admitted came from ED," said Herrod. Now, across our customer base, its 17 percent of ED patients getting admitted, and 60 percent of admitted patients start in the ED." In certain underserved areas, those numbers could be as high as 30 and 90 percent, respectively.
MEDHOST develops a suite of products meant to "make EDs tremendously more efficient," he said. "It doesn't really matter what size hospital you are, it's all the same issues."
Its Web-based OpCenter tool aims to give hospital execs a view of their entire facility – offering real-time data about which patients are coming in and which are waiting to go home. That "30,000-foot view looking down into the ED," says MEDHOST product manager Robin Hill, gives the C-suite information that can help optimize resource utilization for more efficient throughput.
MEDHOST HD, meanwhile, is a decision support tool that's also aimed at executives. Aggregating data from both the emergency department information system and the inpatient hospital information systems, it can alert decision-makers when patients are in observation status longer than indicated, occupying higher acuity beds or exceeding their reimbursed length of stay.
In short, it lets a hospital know when it's "providing care at one level when [it] should be providing care at another level," said Hill.
At HIMSS12, meaningful use Stage 2 was the talk of the exhibit floor. But it was less of a concern to MEDHOST executives. "When you listen to CEOs, and what their biggest issues are," said Herrod, meaningful use surely has its place. "But number one is, 'How the heck do I get more revenue in here? Somehow, some way?'"
In hospitals nowadays, "opportunity for new revenue is not great – but also at the same time, your ability to cut cost is not great, either."