To become a national healthcare leader, Orlando Health South Seminole Hospital has implemented processes that enhance and streamline patient care 24 hours a day.
Those enhancements have earned it back-to-back “A” grades for safety as well as national recognition as a Top General Hospital from the Leapfrog Group – a nonprofit organization that rates hospitals based on their patient safety and inpatient care. And this year, South Seminole Hospital’s patient satisfaction scores for physician care during a hospital stay have ranked in the top 10 percent of the nation.
Unlike other hospitals that only have emergency room doctors on-site after hours, South Seminole Hospital has internal medicine physicians on staff day and night.
“If you come to South Seminole, whether it’s seven in the morning or midnight, you’ll have a physician who will see you right away and start your diagnostic process and treatment,” says Anita Ekambaram, MD, the hospital’s Chief Quality Officer.
As a result, South Seminole Hospital has reduced emergency room wait times and the timeline for inpatient bed placement. Staff also inform new patients about what to expect during their hospital stay and invite family members to be part of the physician’s communications and updates.
“We have established times when the family can come in and interact with the physician to be involved in their loved one’s treatment plan,” says Dr. Ekambaram, who leads the hospital’s Quality Team in collaboration with Chief Nursing Officer Cindy Stone. “We want to involve family members when possible to create a healing environment for the patient.”
Extending Care Through Telemedicine
South Seminole Hospital and other Orlando Health facilities also use telemedicine to improve the diagnosis and treatment of patients.
Assisted by a motorized RoboDoc, physicians can attend to patients in the Intensive Care Unit at night from any location. A RoboDoc allows a physician to talk face-to-face with a patient remotely, perform a comprehensive exam, and deal with most types of medical emergencies. The doctor guides the robot from room to room through a camera mounted on the robot, and the patient sees the physician’s face during conversations.
“Thanks to this technology, we are the only hospital in Seminole County that can have an intensive care doctor visit patients at night,” says Dr. Ekambaram.
Educating Patients to Stay Out of the Hospital
South Seminole Hospital staff members not only treat patients in the hospital, they educate them on how to manage their condition when they go home to reduce the likelihood of having to return to the hospital.
A program for patients with chronic lung disease helps them quit smoking, use their nebulizers and medications correctly, and even keep their home air environment clean through regular dusting and changing of air filters. The hospital’s plan is to extend this kind of patient education to other major chronic diseases, such as heart failure and pneumonia.
Other Quality Improvements at South Seminole Hospital
During 2016, the length of hospital stays for patients undergoing total knee or hip replacement dropped by more than 50 percent – from an average of 73 hours to 35 hours. As a result, patients were able to return home within two days of their surgery.
Over a nearly three-year period, the average time for patients to receive treatment and be discharged from the Emergency Department dropped by approximately 16 percent to 144 median minutes.
Online Emergency Room Scheduling
Individuals needing care for minor emergencies can now use an online scheduling tool to reserve an appointment time at the South Seminole Hospital emergency department, and at all other Orlando Health hospitals. This option allows patients to wait at home until their scheduled emergency room appointment time.
For information, visit TheEmergencyExperts.com.