Major Study on Patient Flow

Photo: Dr Justin Boyle from the CSIRO Australian e-Health Research Centre, a lead investigator on the study, with Minister for Health and Ambulance Services the Hon Yvette D’Ath.

Thursday 16 March 2023

A major multi-agency study is underway to investigate contributing factors to rising waiting times in public hospital emergency departments in Queensland, and to help find solutions.

The project ‘Study on Patient Flow in Queensland’s public hospitals’ is being conducted by a research team comprising experts from CSIRO, Queensland Health, The University of Queensland and the Queensland Ambulance Service.
Funded by Emergency Medicine Foundation (EMF) and Queensland Health’s Healthcare Improvement Unit at Clinical Excellence Queensland, the $593,502 study takes a whole-of-system approach to examine the patient journey in public emergency care.

Chair of Emergency Medicine Foundation, Professor Hugh Grantham ASM, said the scope of the study and the breadth of disciplines and agencies involved demonstrated the complexity and gravity of the issue.

“Access block and long waiting times do not begin and end in the ED,” Prof Grantham said.

“However, sub-optimal patient flow often has the most potent impact on those seeking emergency care, and the clinicians attempting to provide care to every patient who presents at the ED.

“Without research-informed intervention and innovation, our hospitals will continue to struggle under increasing pressure. We are looking forward to what this study will uncover and the potential solutions it will point towards.”

The comprehensive study is assessing current challenges and influences on Queensland public hospital EDs and system-wide patient flow, causes of access block for emergency patients and barriers for effective patient discharge; before presenting recommendations for practical and actionable solutions.

In addition to comprehensive analysis of patient and socioeconomic data and reviews of current processes, the study will also include perspectives and experiences from patients, consumers, and clinicians.

The study is part of an overarching program funded by EMF and Queensland Health’s Healthcare Improvement Unit at Clinical Excellence Queensland, which has also delivered funding grants to four separate research projects looking at improving patient flow in Queensland public hospitals.

Researchers from Metro North Hospital and Health Service (HHS), Metro South HHS, and the Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) will examine and address factors hampering effective and timely evaluations and treatment of patients in Queensland public hospitals and their EDs

Prof Grantham said taking a holistic view and involving clinicians at the frontline was key.

“Everything from access to community health services, the triaging and treatment of patients by paramedics, treatment protocols within the ED, to what delays a patient safely being discharged from the ED or the ward – all of these have an impact on patient flow.

“It’s a complex issue increasing in criticality for all health systems and involving clinicians who experience the impact of poor patient flow in this research is essential in helping to find the solution,” Prof. Grantham said.

Researchers presented the scope of the study and the proposed modelling at the 2023 EMF Symposium Improving Patient Flow in Queensland Public Hospitals on Wednesday 8 March 2023 in Brisbane.

Click here to view presentation slides from the research team.

Find out more about the Improving Patient Flow in Queensland Public Hospital program here.


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