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Irish Health Service Executive: Using the power of information to make sure patients have a better experience in busy hospitals

Patients stuck on trolleys in hospital corridors have become an all-too-familiar sight in Irish hospitals. Efficient hospitals need to be able to discharge patients promptly, manage planned treatment and provide beds for emergency admissions. The Health Service Executive (HSE) asked us to help them tackle this challenge.

We worked closely with clinicians and managers at Sligo Regional Hospital, to identify where they were having problems. We helped them understand how things could be better, the data they needed to gather and how it could be presented it in a clear graphic format to make it easy to understand. One example was giving clinicians and managers a daily demand forecast early for both unscheduled and scheduled care. It took into account patterns of demand on particular days and times of the year. That allowed clinicians to deal with any potential pressures early in the day rather than waiting until they had a beds crisis. We also provided monthly and annual demand and capacity forecasts to improve longer-term strategic planning.

The clear benefit of this approach was that, because data was easy to understand, all hospital staff could see how they could make a difference. So clinicians began driving changes in their own work rather than leaving it to managers.

Improving patient flow means the hospital carries out more planned operations than before, and is managing winter pressures more effectively. It has cut the average lengths of time people spend as in-patients overall and eased pressure on the emergency department. This project has given the HSE a successful approach they are now taking to other hospitals.

"PA’s team brought a depth of experience in hospital performance and understood the need for the solution to be workable in a typical HSE hospital. Their hands on approach, working with clinicians to really understand their needs was impressive. The partnership with Sligo produced guidance on governance and the information needed to sustain improvements in patient flows and has successfully delivered a great improvement in performance."

Jenny Hogan, Special Delivery Unit

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