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New Cardiology Hospitalist Program to Improve Patient Flow, Reduce Discharge Delays



As part of a broader effort to reduce discharge delays and improve patient flow throughout the hospital, Lawrence General has introduced a new Cardiology Hospitalist Program that went into effect on November 1. The new program provides all-day, on-site coverage by a cardiologist on weekdays and half days on weekends. Comprised of six local cardiologists, the new service will expedite patient consultations, reduce the turnaround time on inpatient cardiac test interpretations, and improve the overall patient experience.

“In our old inpatient cardiology model, there could be three to five patients in the Telemetry Unit on any given day who were ready to be discharged, but were waiting for the results of a stress test or echocardiogram,” says Ziad Alfarah, MD, associate vice president of Medical Affairs. “The speed in which these tests were being read was entirely dependent on the availability of the cardiologist on call and whether or not this physician was on site that day.”

As a result, the average wait time for a cardiac test interpretation was more than 12 hours, which led to significant delays in inpatient discharges and bottlenecks in the Emergency Center for patients waiting to be admitted.

In the new model, the on-site Cardiology Hospitalist tends to emergency patients, supervises the cardiac testing areas, consults on unassigned patients, and reads all inpatient testing results. Patients who already have a cardiologist still receive consults from their own physician.

“Our goal is to have all cardiac test readings happen on the same day, with all stress test and urgent echocardiogram interpretations taking place within two hours,” says Dr. Alfarah. “We also hope to discharge more patients before noon to better accommodate patients in the Emergency Center waiting for a room.”

In addition to cardiology, the Lawrence General Hospitalist Service also includes specialists in both critical and palliative care. “Cardiology is an extremely important specialty and heart failure is one of our most common diagnoses,” says Dr. Alfarah. “This program really complements our existing Hospitalist Service and all of the other great work that is happening across the hospital to improve quality, safety, efficiency, and the patient experience.”

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