Improving service quality by understanding emergency department flow: a White Paper and position statement prepared for the American Academy of Emergency Medicine

Dave R Eitel, Scott E Rudkin, M Albert Malvehy, James P Killeen, Jesse M Pines
Journal of Emergency Medicine 2010, 38 (1): 70-9
Emergency Department (ED) crowding is a common problem in the United States and around the world. Process reengineering methods can be used to understand factors that contribute to crowding and provide tools to help alleviate crowding by improving service quality and patient flow. In this article, we describe the ED as a service business and then discuss specific methods to improve the ED quality and flow. Methods discussed include demand management, critical pathways, process-mapping, Emergency Severity Index triage, bedside registration, Lean and Six Sigma management methods, statistical forecasting, queuing systems, discrete event simulation modeling and balanced scorecards. The purpose of this review is to serve as a background for emergency physicians and managers interested in applying process reengineering methods to improving ED flow, reducing waiting times, and maximizing patient satisfaction. Finally, we present a position statement on behalf of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine addressing these issues.

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