The safe patient flow initiative: a collaborative quality improvement journey at Yale-New Haven Hospital

Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2013 Oct;39(10):447-59. doi: 10.1016/s1553-7250(13)39058-8.


Background: Yale-New Haven Hospital (YNHH) began a successful journey to achieve safe patient flow in fiscal year (FY) 2008 (October 1, 2007-September 30, 2008). The 966-bed (now 1,541-bed) academic medical center faced several challenges, including overcrowding in the Adult Emergency Department (ED); delays in the postanesthesia care unit, which affected the flow of patients through the operating rooms; pinched capacity during the central part of the day; and a lack of interdependent institutionwide coordination of patients.

Methods: The Safe Patient Flow Steering Committee oversaw improvement efforts, most of which were implemented in FY 2009 (October 2008-September 2009), through a cascade of operational meetings. Process changes were made in various departments, such as the Adult ED, Physicians/Providers, and the Bed Management Department. Organizationwide method changes involved standardizing the discharge process, using status boards for visual control, and improving accuracy and timeliness of data entry.

Results: Between FY 2008 and FY 2011, YNHH experienced an 84% improvement in discharges by 11:00 A.M. The average length of stay decreased from 5.23 to 5.05 days, thereby accommodating an additional 45 inpatients on a daily basis, contributing to YNHH's positive operating margin amid increasing volume and overall decreasing inpatient length of stay.

Conclusions: YNHH improved clinical, operational, and financial outcomes by embracing five key components of demand capacity management: real-time communication, inter/intradepartmental and interdisciplinary collaboration, staff empowerment, standardization of best practices, and institutional memory.

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers / organization & administration*
  • Connecticut
  • Efficiency, Organizational*
  • Hospital Bed Capacity, 500 and over
  • Hospital Departments / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Inpatients
  • Length of Stay
  • Patient Safety*
  • Process Assessment, Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Quality Improvement / organization & administration*
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Workflow