BMC Health Serv Res. 2023 Sep 18;23(1):1000. doi: 10.1186/s12913-023-10008-6.
BACKGROUND: Appropriate use of available inpatient beds is an ongoing challenge for US hospitals. Historical capacity goals of 80% to 85% may no longer serve the intended purpose of maximizing the resources of space, staff, and equipment. Numerous variables affect the input, throughput, and output of a hospital. Some of these variables include patient demand, regulatory requirements, coordination of patient flow between various systems, coordination of processes such as bed management and patient transfers, and the diversity of departments (both inpatient and outpatient) in an organization.
METHODS: Mayo Clinic Health System in the Southwest Minnesota region of the US, a community-based hospital system primarily serving patients in rural southwestern Minnesota and part of Iowa, consists of 2 postacute care and 3 critical access hospitals. Our inpatient bed usage rates had exceeded 85%, and patient transfers from the region to other hospitals in the state (including Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota) had increased. To address these quality gaps, we used a blend of Agile project management methodology, rapid Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles, and a proactive approach to patient placement in the medical-surgical units as a quality improvement initiative.
RESULTS: During 2 trial periods of the initiative, the main hub hospital (Mayo Clinic Health System hospital in Mankato) and other hospitals in the region increased inpatient bed usage while reducing total out-of-region transfers.
CONCLUSION: Our novel approach to proactively managing bed capacity in the hospital allowed the region's only tertiary medical center to increase capacity for more complex and acute cases by optimizing the use of historically underused partner hospital beds.