Penn State Hershey Med Getting New ER

With half of the nation’s hospitals running losses, the Penn State Hershey Medical Center’s recent announcement of plans for an enlightened ER came as a surprise. But, on second glance, we realized the economic strain being endured by the nation’s hospitals is the very impetus for Hershey Med’s plans.

Dr. Chris DeFlitch spoke with WITF News yesterday about the plans. He explained that Hershey Med isn’t alone in experiencing acute growing pains with its Emergency Room. Most hospitals are simply expanding their preexisting structures, but Hershey Med is taking a different approach.

We’re not changing just the emergency department, we’re really changing the approach to health care, using information technology and using flow science to really make a difference. So, instead of us spending $20 million on an ER department expansion, we’re spending less than $5 million.

In short, the hospital hopes to create a smarter queue.

Explains the press release,

Through a process called health care engineering, which applies flow modeling, queuing theory and advanced information technology to health care processes, combined with commercial, off-the-shelf software Microsoft Visio, the Medical Center has created a unique model that will improve access to and the quality of emergency care at less cost. By making care processes more efficient, the Medical Center needed to add only 7,000 square feet of space and spent less than $4 million on the expansion.

The downside of this is that patients with less severe problems will likely have increased wait times. You can find more info about the plan at the blog run Microsoft’s worldwide health senior director Bill Crounse.

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