Bed Visibility Proves Value at Two Levels: Q&A with Charley Larsen and Luke Smith
Charley Larsen, MSN-L, MBA, RN, NE-BC, and Luke Smith, DNP, RN, NE-BC, CCM, were among the first healthcare professionals to put Central Logic’s new Bed Visibility solution to a rigorous test in their respective endeavors.
For Larsen, it was as Senior Director of Transfer Services of one of the 25 largest U.S. health systems.¹ Meanwhile, Smith oversees operation of the Arizona Surge Line, a centralized hub designed to facilitate statewide load-balancing of patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. He also serves as Central Logic’s Client Operations Analyst.
Although the scope of their responsibilities differs significantly (health system vs. large-scale public health entity), they speak with virtually one voice when it comes to their experiences with Bed Visibility, which is a core part of the Central Logic healthcare access and orchestration solution.
In a nutshell, Central Logic Bed Visibility provides at-a-glance bed status, in real time, across a health system, state, or region, and it integrates with all EHR and bed management solutions. Using Bed Visibility, transfer/access center agents can quickly target the right facility for patient placement, eliminating the inefficiencies of inquiring about bed availability one facility at a time. Bed Visibility helps improve patient load balancing, reduces transfer times, and speeds access to patient care.
We sat down with Larsen and Smith to learn about their unique perspectives on Bed Visibility and the benefits to their respective stakeholders.
Charley Larsen: health system perspective
What were the challenges your health system sought to address with Bed Visibility?
Over time we had clearly outgrown the “homegrown” bed visibility tools we were using. This included Excel spreadsheets, which had to be updated manually by our hospitals. One of the biggest drawbacks was, by the time someone hit “save,” the information was already out of date. We needed a way to see bed availability in real time, get rid of manual entry, eliminate bottlenecks, and get to “yes” more quickly when responding to transfer requests.
How did Bed Visibility help you? Can you share any before-and-after metrics?
Within the patient transfer process, one of the critical elements is how long it takes from the initial transfer request call until a potentially accepting physician is paged. Previously, it took 45 minutes to an hour for just this part of the process. With Bed Visibility, we were able to cut that by at least two-thirds, down to 15 minutes. We knew with certainty where available beds were, without having to call someone to validate what we were seeing. What used to be one of our biggest pain points turned into one of our most reliable sets of information.
How does this time savings translate to better patient care?
Transfers usually involve patients who require a higher level of care than they can receive in their current location. Quite often time is of the essence in moving these patients, due to the risk of deterioration in their conditions. Think about a stroke or STEMI patient and the impact of cutting a half hour from the transfer process — it can make a huge difference.
Did Bed Visibility give you an advantage in managing COVID-19 patients?
Definitely. At any given moment, we could see COVID-designated beds in all of our 16 hospitals. Bed Visibility helped us get COVID patients to the level of care they needed as rapidly as possible. In addition, we could identify bed shortages and contact a specific hospital about recoding beds for COVID care. I should also mention that we had quick access to critical metrics that we used in our emergency operations meetings to identify areas for improvements. In fact, the reporting embedded in Bed Visibility proved valuable to our overall transfer operations.
What was the effect on your patient referral patterns?
When a patient needs to be moved — particularly if that patient needs critical care — the referring physician typically will reach out to multiple health systems. It was our goal to prove to these providers that we could quickly and smoothly move their patients — and do it on a consistent basis. As they gained confidence in us, we saw increases in referrals. Using Central Logic, with Bed Visibility as a cornerstone of the solution, we were able to deliver on the expectations of our referring physicians.
Luke Smith: public health system perspective
How would you characterize Arizona’s response to the COVID-19 crisis?
The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) and other state leaders watched what was happening elsewhere in the country during the early stages of the pandemic, and they decided to take proactive steps to avoid the crises that other states were experiencing. This commitment led to the Arizona Surge Line, a public-private partnership between the state and the healthcare sector to load-balance COVID patients across the state. ADHS tapped into Central Logic for technology and consulting expertise to launch and manage the Surge Line.
What’s the role of Bed Visibility in your efforts to load-balance patients?
As Charley explained, we’re able to see where we have COVD bed availability, except that our visibility extends to virtually every health system and hospital across the state. It’s important to understand that we wouldn’t be able to have this comprehensive visibility without the vendor-agnostic integrations that allow us to pull feeds from all applications, including multiple EHR systems.
How has Bed Visibility helped the state efficiently manage COVID-19 patients?
We have an aggressive goal of 30 minutes from initial call to acceptance of a COVID patient. In many instances, we’re able to meet or exceed that goal, and much of the credit goes to Bed Visibility. In the early days of the pandemic, prior to implementation of Central Logic technology, the state used a manual process that required hospitals to enter their bed availability every day. But these snapshots could change quickly and dramatically. Also, it was challenging to interpret some of the data, such as whether we were looking at an ICU or NICU bed. Bed Visibility provides precise bed availability information, and it’s automatically updated on a continual basis.
Have you been able to leverage this technology for non-COVID patients?
At this point, the Surge Line is devoted exclusively to COVID patients. Interestingly, however, I’ve received emails from individuals in some hospitals, primarily in rural areas of the state, saying they wish they could use Bed Visibility for all of their patients, once they see how quickly and efficiently we’re able to facilitate transfers of their COVID patients. I truly wish we could provide this service for Arizona’s general patient population.