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Lee Health’s Global Patient Station coordinates proper care for patients

By Staff | Dec 30, 2019

Lee Health’s Global Patient Station is working around the clock to ensure patient care is seamlessly coordinated and reduces the amount of time it takes people to be discharged once they are ready to go home.

The GPS, which went live in August at Lee Memorial, brings together hospital staff, all under one, NASA control room resembling environment, to map out a patient’s care and needs from the moment they enter the hospital until they are discharged.

“On any given day, patients remain in the hospital longer than they need to, because of issues that are both within the hospital but also issues that take place post-acute care,” said Dr. Scott Wolf, vice president of operations and chief physician executive at Lee Memorial. “By developing what we call our GPS, or, our Global Patient Station, what we’ve done is, we’ve brought together a multidisciplinary team that is integrated and works in a collaborative fashion that meets the needs of the patient from the minute a patient is admitted in the Emergency Department, all the way through the course of their hospital stay, and then to ensure a seamless transition to their post-acute next level of care.”

The control center, which is staffed 24/7, allows Lee Health to monitor capacity at all four adult hospital locations and coordinate with Emergency Management Services on where to direct patients based on needs, condition and availability.

“It brings in disciplines of nursing, it brings care management, it brings in EVS (Hospital Environmental Services) and transport, it brings in post-acute liaisons,” Wolf said. “By bringing them all together in one place, they can work collaboratively together to really meet the needs of the patients during their entire journey through care.”

Wolf said the goals of the GPS is to reduce patients’ length of stay and to ensure patients don’t need to remain in the hospital any longer than necessary. Overdue stays can have patients exposed to risks such as infections, falls and other things they wouldn’t need to be exposed to if discharged on time.

“Our focus is about patient quality and safety, patient experience — nobody likes to be in the hospital any longer than they have to be, they want to be home with their loved ones — and it also has to do with employee experience as well. It’s our job as leaders in the organization to make sure that we’re providing our employees the tools — that they perform their role to the best of their ability.”

The GPS control room has an abundance of information available at the fingertips of those who monitor it. Employees can see where patients are being transported at any given time and can communicate with EMS on the best location for that individual.

“They (Lee County EMS) are seeing the capacity at all of the hospitals, they know what the wait time of the ambulances are, they know where the specialties for each campus are located,” said Andrea Snyder, director of the Transfer Center. “They help disseminate the patients to the right hospital the first time.”

That ability is what Snyder calls “very vital.”

“Ultimately, arriving to the right hospital the first time then avoids us having to transfer a patient,” she said. “They know when one campus is getting a little overloaded and they’ll divert trucks elsewhere.”

The hospital can also see which beds need to be cleaned (and relay which ones need to be prioritized if expecting an incoming patient), how many people are currently in the emergency department and how many have been admitted, how many patients are currently in operating rooms and how many of those patients need to be admitted following surgery.

“In one place, all the stakeholders are together and they’re surrounded by all the information that helps inform them as to, ‘How do we optimize our flow and throughout, so that a patient’s journey, from the point of admission to the point of discharge, is as efficient and effective as possible?'” Wolf said.

Since GPS has been implemented, Lee Memorial has reduced the length of stay of its patients, reduced what are called “excess days” or the unnecessary days patients stay in the hospital and reduced the time from when a discharge order was written, until a patient is actually released.

“Sometimes it could take several hours, to several days for a patient to be discharged to a post-acute facility,” Wolf said. “We’re reducing that now down to a few hours — from days, to hours.”

Wolf, along with Snyder, said the communication capabilities of the GPS is what really makes the difference for the hospital.

“In the past, all of the people you see in the GPS, they were all working, but in different siloed areas,” Wolf said. “Now, putting them all around a virtual table, now they’re able to communicate with one another about unanticipated needs that a patient may have. Making sure that authorizations are achieved prior to that day of discharge. Now, when someone is ready to be discharged, all of that prep work that needed to be done, is actually done in a timely fashion, whereas before, it would have all been done sort of in a siloed way, and then coming together. Now it’s all happening all together.”

Wolf described it as a “hub and spoke” model of care — the GPS being the hub and the spokes being the stakeholders that interact with the command center, such as nursing staff, care managers, therapists, post-acute liaisons, etc.

“Everybody is interacting with the hub to retrieve the information necessary to allow them to do their job in the most optimal way,” Wolf said.

The GPS also allows for greater turnover in the hospital, leading to more patients getting faster care.

If issues to arise with turnover or meeting the metrics of getting patients discharged in a timely fashion, officials can look to the GPS to see what isn’t working and find a remedy to the situation.

“We’re being very intentional and being very informed as to where each process we may be falling behind,” Wolf said.

Lee Health will be expanding its GPS capabilities to each of its campuses in the county. The second GPS is expected to open at Gulf Coast Medical Center in January. Lee Health expects to expand to all four over the course of 2020.

“The ultimate goal is to have a system GPS that serves as the command center for the entire system,” Wolf said. “It would give us the opportunity to optimize our flow and input through the entire system. We want to make sure people are receiving the right care in the right place at the right time.”

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj