Systematic Improvement in the Patient Transfer Process to a Tertiary Care Children's Hospital

Hosp Pediatr. 2022 Sep 1;12(9):816-825. doi: 10.1542/hpeds.2021-006390.


Objective: Interfacility transfer of pediatric patients to a children's hospital is a complex process that can be time consuming and dissatisfying for referring providers. We aimed to improve the efficiency of communication and acceptance for interfacility transfers to our hospital.

Methods: We implemented iterative improvements to the process in 2 phases from 2013 to 2016 (pediatric medicine) and 2019 to 2022 (pediatric critical care and surgery). Key interventions included creation of a hospitalist position to manage transfers with broad ability to accept patients and transition to direct phone access for transfer requests to streamline connection. Effective initiatives from Phase 1 were adapted and spread to the other services in Phase 2. Data were manually extracted monthly from call transcripts and monitored by using statistical process control (SPC) charts. Primary outcome measures were time from call to connection to a provider and number of providers added to the call before making a disposition decision.

Results: Average time from call initiation to provider connection for pediatric medicine calls decreased from 11 minutes to 5 minutes. The average number of internal physicians on each call before acceptance decreased from 2.1 to 1.3. In Phase 2, time to provider connection decreased from 11 to 4 minutes for pediatric critical care calls and 16 to 5 minutes for pediatric surgery calls.

Conclusions: We streamlined the process of accepting incoming transfer requests throughout our children's hospital. Prioritizing direct communication led to efficient disposition decisions and progression toward transfer and was effective for multiple service lines.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Hospitalists*
  • Hospitals, Pediatric
  • Humans
  • Patient Transfer*
  • Telephone
  • Tertiary Healthcare