Beaufort Memorial’s Living Well Blog brings health and wellness to Lowcountry living.

Finding Ways Healthcare Can Work Better

Posted by Leadership Team on Sep 26, 2017 2:00:00 PM

When Beaufort Memorial was founded in 1944, the hospital had 25 beds that were served by four providers. Today, the number of beds in our hospital is a far greater 197, but that’s not all that’s changed. How we approach those beds and patient care is very different.

Russell Baxley, CEO

The 197 beds are categorized based on the type of care we can provide. We have 169 beds for acute care, 14 for rehabilitation and 14 for mental health.

What began as four providers has grown into a seasoned team of 170 board-certified physicians who specialize in widely ranging areas of practice. Supporting them is a team of 1,800 employees in areas from physical therapy to environmental services to administration.

Along with the trend in specialization, there’s been a crystallization of highly personalized care. Patient-centeredness has become a working methodology designed to infuse every experience with customer service, clinical care and continuity. This ultimately leads to better outcomes for patients and greater value for payers.

There are great benefits in our ongoing work to improve quality and outcomes. We continually audit our clinical organizations to make sure that our processes, protocols and pathways are appropriate and up to standard. We work toward critical certifications that bring the most current best practices in clinical care to our community. And we try to solve the bottlenecks and flare-ups that affect your experience.

The Emergency Department has been one sore spot for many American hospitals.

The Beaufort Memorial ER is a strong and busy area of our hospital. In 2016, we tracked 53,000 ER visits. In 2017, we expect to crest 57,000, which equals close to 200 visits each day. It’s a staggering volume.

Countywide, an ER patient visit — the time from arrival to discharge — averages 178 minutes. At Beaufort Memorial it’s 146 minutes. But rather than congratulating ourselves for being faster than other hospitals, we’re thinking of ways we can further improve those wait times. One solution is our new Online Check-in.

This allows you to register and complete paperwork online, wait in the comfort of your home, and arrive at your scheduled appointment time. In addition to saving you from a potentially long wait, the solution gives us the opportunity to balance patient volume and speeds time-to-care for everyone who comes to the ER.

In addition, later this year we’ll be launching BMH Care Anywhere, a telemedicine app that will allow our patients to schedule a secure virtual visit with a board-certified health care professional 24/7. Diagnosis and prescriptions will be available for common symptoms and conditions, ensuring our patients can access the medical care they need, when and where they need it.

Medical technology has advanced by leaps and bounds, too.

“Violet,” our germ-zapping robot, has ultraviolet and infrared light that kill germs and bacteria inside the hospital. Her light is a weapon that helps us fight hospital-acquired MRSA and C. difficile infections.

Linear accelerators and da Vinci robots pinpoint treatment areas with unprecedented clarity and precision, sparing healthy tissue and speeding recovery.

Telemedicine can bring doctors and specialists right to Beaufort Memorial or to you if you can’t get to them.

Many of you are familiar with the new electronic medical records at our hospital and physician offices. You may not realize that the records feed into a vast pool of health and clinical information. This wealth of information — patient records, protocols, outcomes, provider measures and metrics — can be used to track, analyze and refine patient care for individuals or for whole populations such as those with diabetes. The data is a tool that helps us better control everything from readmissions and hospital-acquired infections to costs and utilization.

Today, patients have access to more information online than ever before. Scores, grades and ratings of health care providers are just a Google search away. For many hospitals, this kind of data was confined to internal reports just 10 years ago. Today it’s fully out in the public view and at our fingertips at a moment’s notice.

With this kind of information available, people can become more discerning consumers. They can better understand where to go for health care resources. And, when they get there, they’re better informed and asking questions. That’s change we welcome at Beaufort Memorial with open arms.

Perhaps the greatest innovation in health care isn’t technology or even a breakthrough medicine. It’s empowered patients who are fully engaged in their health care.

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