In the News: Aug 22–29

Air Transport Struggles With Emergency Care Crisis

A recent Kaiser Health News article highlights the detrimental effects of the closure of more than 110 rural hospitals since 2010. Because Mercy Hospital Fort Scott in Kansas had closed one week prior, Robert Findley needed air transport to a neurology center 90 miles away after experiencing a fall. A dispatcher for a private air ambulance company had to check with 4 bases before finding a pilot to accept the flight. Due to the delay in care, Findley passed away after being flown to Kansas City.

During the 18 days of the Fort Scott ED closure, publicly funded ambulances responded to over 80 calls and drove over 1,300 miles to provide patients with emergency care. Researchers have found that the average ambulance transport time for a rural patient increased nearly 77% after the closure of a rural hospital, and these extra minutes are crucial in emergency cases. After months of desperation, hospital president Reta Baker persuaded Ascension to reopen the ED for the next 2 years.

Rural community members remain apprehensive as they experience a dwindling population and tax base, a lack of airline regulation policies, and the high costs of utilizing private air ambulances to fill the gap in rural health. However, rural hospitals can become invaluable components in a regional health system. For an overview of the essential services for rural providers, examples of innovative rural health approaches and key considerations when partnering with rural hospitals, please read the Sg2 FAQ The Role of a Rural Hospital in a Regional Health System.

Tech Helps Reduce Nursing Turnover and Experience Gaps

A recent Modern Healthcare article explores a variety of initiatives taken by health systems and academic medical centers across the country to address the increasing demand for nurses over the next decade. As experienced nurses reach retirement, the nursing workforce loses its cumulative years of expertise. Considering this shift in workforce, health systems have begun to explore ways to bridge the experience gap using technological advancements and restructuring workflow to decrease overall burden.

These initiatives range from integrating technology into recruitment patterns to floor staffing, retention and training among available workforce. Atrium Health revamped its admissions documentation process, resulting in a decrease of 4 million clicks per year when documenting admissions and 6,000 hours saved. After a similar admissions documentation redesign, Stanford Children’s Hospital reduced admissions documentation time from 32 minutes to 12 minutes. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt University and Emory University medical centers have launched “virtual sitter” programs allowing nurses to monitor multiple patients simultaneously, showcasing an effective use of virtual health to improve workflow.

As the nursing workforce refreshes, it is important to create a strong foundational understanding of long-term professional development to encourage retention and minimize turnover potential. Learn more about leading causes of nursing turnover, as well as its downstream implications and strategies to address it, in the Sg2 FAQ Addressing Nursing Turnover and Improving Retention.

Meet Consumer Expectations Through Primary Care

A recent American Academy of Family Physicians article discusses the results of a study conducted by Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative and the Robert Graham Center, which indicate investing in primary care allows family physicians to maximize the care they provide for their patients. On average, primary care receives about 5% to 7% of health care spending in the US, compared to 14% across other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries. This state-level analysis found that increased spending in primary care was linked to fewer ED visits and total hospitalizations, suggesting state leaders’ growing interest in primary care investments.

Sg2 believes it is important to invest in primary care to meet consumers’ growing expectations as new low-acuity access channels appear. To learn more about how to scale the primary care ecosystem across multiple access channels and how to align primary care providers around consumer-centric strategies, please register for the Sg2 webinar Primary Care Network: Achieving Scale to hear Novant Health Clinic Services discuss how low-acuity access has become a cornerstone of its enterprise strategy.

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