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Evaluating the integration among Transfer Centers, Communication Centers, and Transport Programs

December 8, 2020

Patient transports can be stressful for patients, families, and transport teams, even under ordinary circumstances.  If the right processes are not in place, there are risks of miscommunication, incomplete information, and delays in treatment. Successful  transport programs and healthcare organizations recognize the need to develop a centralized and streamlined approach, enabling transferring facilities to call one phone number to complete the entire transfer and admission process, including arranging and activation of the transport.

The goal: Getting the right information to the right people, at the right time, as efficiently as possible.

Integrating the transfer center, communication center, and transport program should begin with evaluating and mapping the workflow process.  When evaluating standard workflows and attempting to optimize the transfer center, communication center, and transport program, noticeable gaps will appear.  The processes should deliver an easy, fast, and thorough communication method that provides a successful patient transfer and transport.

Each department (transfer center, communication center and transport program) is and will continue to be integrated with other key stakeholder departments to support the transport and admission process.  Some of those key stakeholder departments include: housekeeping, bed control, air and ground transport providers, aviation operational control centers, maintenance, and management.  All of those stakeholders support the transfer and transport process.

When integrating these departments, the following should be included:

  1. Improving Patient Access: Analyze the current state of the admission and transport process.  Make sure the current process does not induce a delay in patient care, long turnaround times, and frustrations by healthcare providers, both internally and externally.  Map the current and ideal state of a patient transfer and transport process.
  2. Enhance the Infrastructure: Evaluate the physical space and identify the needs.  Evaluate the key technology components.  Make sure the selection of any new infrastructure and software supports the ability to deliver key performance indicators (KPI’s).  Remember, the goal is efficiency.  Make the transfer and transport process faster, easier, safer, and increase the sharing of information for an overall better experience.
  3. Identify Inefficiencies: Look at the details and ask “why.”  Are there places within the current process (for the communication center and transfer center) that are hindering efficiency?  Identify the areas that are creating delays.
  4. Communicating Seamlessly: The integration of communication methods will provide a more efficient and simplified process approach.  Do the applications used by the transfer center integrate or provide information to the communication center?  Does the communication center information support the transport clinicians? Does the charting platform used by the transport clinicians provide valuable information to the receiving departments?
  5. Measure the Results: Identify and monitor KPI’s.  Champion the positive results while monitoring and improving the areas of opportunity.  Look at specific measurable indicators for each department (transfer center, communication center, and transport program).  Do the indicators support each other?  Do they impact each other?  Are they supporting the healthcare organization’s goals?  Measure patient and requesting agency customer satisfaction.

Of course, this is not an all-inclusive list.  As the process is evaluated, changes and enhancements will be made, and there will be challenges along the way.  Meet those challenges head-on.  Make sure all the key stakeholders are part of the process mapping.  Stakeholders are not just from the leadership team.  Bring in frontline personnel who understand how things really work.  Make sure there is a strong executive sponsor who understands the importance of the project.  Remember the goal: Get the right information, to the right people, at the right time, as efficiently as possible.

ADM to Traditional

Check out our case study on an air medical program that went from an Alternative Delivery Model (ADM) to Traditional in a matter of months.