Attending Physician @ Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati
Condition: In resource-strapped emergency rooms, the sickest patients are continually served first, creating unnecessarily long wait times for those who don't require intensive care.
Cure: Hospitals reserve a separate staff and space for patients with common ailments, so more people can be served more efficiently.
"I've worked in emergency rooms and I know it's counterintuitive to focus on the least-sick patients. But we used to put every patient through the same robust triage process, whether they had asthma or a broken arm. That's just not an efficient use of resources. Now we have a greeter nurse to separate the very ill from the mildly ill. We have a different area in our lobby for patients who are waiting for test results, so we can use rooms for other patients. And we have medical scribes to fill out forms, so our doctors are freed up to perform care. Because of all that, we're seeing 25% more mildly ill patients, while simultaneously decreasing their average length of stay by 25%. It's not about hurrying. It's about having people do what's appropriate."
A version of this article appeared in the April 2012 issue of Fast Company magazine.