The ease and speed of transferring patients between hospitals and other healthcare organizations greatly improves the chances for a favorable outcome.
During May, Hutchinson Regional Medical Center (HRMC) launched the One-Call Access Center (OCAC) as a service to speed and streamline referrals and transfers of patients between hospitals and healthcare organizations. The OCAC is a 24/7 toll-free number that is a single point of contact for physicians and nurses for referring patients to Hutch Regional. Transferring patients even between floors on a hospital must be seamless. Handwritten data between hospitals has been replaced by electronic records which facilitate the move at every step of the process. A physician lacking all available information on the patient will be unable to make the best decisions on how to proceed with care.
Transferring patients may present risks in that many are sicker and have more complicated medical records to hand off to the next provider, all of which makes the move more important.
OCAC is designed for all unplanned admissions from Emergency Departments, direct admissions, transfers from clinics in the HRMC service area and admissions from Cath labs along with Outpatient Surgery areas. The accuracy of a patient’s illness or injury and other medical records is of utmost importance when transferring a patient to another healthcare organization, and OCAC is an important new step in improving the process and reduces red tape throughout the transfer.
Hutch Regional is one of a small number of hospitals in Kansas offering OCAC. Nationally, approximately 20% of hospital patients are transferred to another medical facility following their admission.
Calls to the OCAC at Hutch Regional are answered by a registered nurse who will facilitate the transfer from start to finish. As quickly as possible, the nurse will:
- Locate a physician who will oversee care of the referring patient.
- Confirm bed availability and notify the receiving department.
- Obtain and document necessary patient information.
- Track transfer from time of call to patient arrival.
- Provide immediate feedback to close the loop with the referring healthcare facilities and Hutch Regional departments.
- If Hutch Regional is not in a position to treat a particular injury or illness, a phone number of the nearest hospital which can provide the necessary service will be provided to the caller.
- Upon completion of the call, the referring physician will be advised that a follow-up call will be made with a report on the patient’s status.
Kim Rohr, Director of Care Management at Hutch Regional, reports the favorable results from OCAC have exceeded expectations and, to date, healthcare organizations, in a number of cities have successfully used the service, including Lyons and McPherson among others. “With this process change, the overall quality of care and outcomes for patients who need access to hospital services can be improved and resources will be connected more efficiently for all departments of the hospital,” Rohr said. “OCAC dramatically reduces time for physician to physician conversations on medical transfers.”
As Hutch Regional expands its footprint to offer more services to other healthcare organizations in central and western Kansas, it is more important than ever to ensure a smooth transfer of patients and their medical records. The One-Call Access Center is another link to provide an extra safety net to a process that requires total accuracy and speed.