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A New Approach: Variable Acute Care Capacity

April 22, 2019

We know that unscheduled patient visits vary from day to day, creating stress on providers that have traditionally respond with fixed resources – both in terms of physical plants and staffing.  Several advances in healthcare and technology now enable new approaches to managing variable arrivals across hospital networks and health systems. Specifically combining remote resources that perform part of the work of patient care in combination with on-site resources, providing a capability to respond to surges and leveling the work load across multiple facilities.

Key characteristics of these new models include:

Improved Throughput Metrics with Reduced Variability

  • Patients are consistently seen by a provider within minutes, even on high volume days
  • Low-acuity patients are consistently discharged within 60 minutes
  • Volume-related hospital diversion of ambulances is eliminated
  • Elastic capacity is used to minimize variation in metrics due to increased volume

Optimal Capacity and Efficiency

  • Virtual clinicians augment on-site staff and are dynamically shared between facilities across the system to meet variable demand
  • Non-value added work is dramatically reduced
  • Individual sites have access to burstable capacity
  • Bed and facility utilization is maximized
  • Reduction in cost per visit by up to 20%

Optimal Patient and Clinician Experience

  • Patients see a provider quickly and constantly move through the process (i.e. they are not waiting)
  • Providers spend the majority of their time making medical decisions versus non-value added work
  • Clinicians observe a steady and manageable amount of work
  • Patient safety risk is managed by speeding time-to-provider and reducing waits and variability
  • Clinicians have resources from across the entire system available to them as needed
  • Centralized clinicians and other staff coordinate care and handoffs between urgent care, EDs, and other facilities
  • Oversight consults are provided when necessary to minimize


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