Wait times at Columbus Regional Hospital's emergency department doubled in late June when the Indiana-based hospital converted from a paper-based records system to an electronic health record system, the AP/Indianapolis Star reports.
Changes in ED Wait Times
Prior to the hospital's EHR transition:
- Fast-track patients -- those with less severe health concerns -- waited an average of two hours and 25 minutes for ED care; and
- Acute care patients waited an average of two hours and 32 minutes for ED care.
However, during the first week of the EHR transition:
- Fast-track patients waited an average of four hours and 41 minutes for ED care; and
- Acute care patients waited an average of four hours and 13 minutes for ED care.
Carolyn O'Neal, director of nursing at Columbus Regional Hospital, said ED wait times have decreased over time as staff members have become more familiar with the EHR system.
According to the AP/Indianapolis Star:
- Fast-track patients currently wait an average of two hours and 39 minutes for ED care; and
- Acute care patients currently wait an average of three hours and 10 minutes for ED care.
Hospital Takes Steps To Ease Transition
During the transition to an EHR system, Columbus Regional Hospital:
- Brought in extra nurses to ease ED overcrowding;
- Displayed messages about the EHR transition on digital screens throughout the hospital; and
- Provided patients with handouts about the new EHR system.
As the ED wait times grew shorter, the hospital scaled back its staffing levels. According to hospital officials, physician and nursing leaders will continue to examine the EHR system and identify efficiency issues as the transition progresses (Johannesen, AP/Indianapolis Star, 8/8).