Hartford HealthCare, a healthcare network in Connecticut, is launching a series of quality initiatives aimed at getting patients the care they need quickly and safely.

Over the next seven years, Hartford HealthCare will work together with GE Healthcare, a consulting company, to help patients avoid unnecessary wait times and “traffic jams” that can delay care.

The projects will rely on advanced analytics to determine the best strategies for clinical program and capacity design, and Hartford HealthCare’s new Care Logistics Center. The center’s goal is to improve patient and staff experience by reducing waiting times and improving communication between providers and facilities.

Hartford Healthcare has four goals with the projects:

  • Enhance the patient experience through more efficient access to diagnosis, testing, and treatment.
  • Leverage advanced analytics to support ongoing operational and clinical improvements that could lead to faster care.
  • Drive improved efficiency to lower the cost of care and provide more than $14 million in savings over the seven-year course of the relationship.
  • Further develop complex digital imaging services, with improved staffing models and better technology to enable more efficient access for patients across the system.

Over the course of the seven-year project, both organizations have committed to achieving measurable improvements and outcomes.

Imaging services will be a key focus of the effort, says Rocco Orlando III, MD, senior vice president and chief medical officer for Hartford HealthCare. Imaging plays an increasingly important role in medical care, he notes, but it can be problematic in terms of maintaining a smooth flow of patients and controlling costs.

“Imaging is a complicated, diverse, and increasingly complicated business, so we wanted to look at how we operate our imaging services and looking for improving efficiencies,” he says. “We also wanted to look long-term at what we need in terms of technology, what’s needed, and what locations to best serve our patients. We know that wait times for imaging services, particularly for diagnostic services when someone is anxiously awaiting a diagnosis, is important and we want to improve our service in that area.”

Patient flow and the logistics of moving patients around is a key concern, Orlando says.

“Our flagship academic medical center, Hartford Hospital, is bursting at the seams, so we struggle at times with emergency department wait times, patients that are boarding, flow through our units. But we have community hospitals where they may not have all the beds full,” he says. “So, we want to really step back and see how we can most effectively manage these assets for the system rather than looking at just one hospital at a time. We want to be able to manage the flow of our assets from institution to institution so that we can serve our patients most in the best way.”

Part of the effort will involve creating a “digital twin” of the hospitals, explains Dominic Foscato, principal of GE Healthcare Partners. Data on patient volume and flow are plugged into those models, and different strategies can be applied to see what effect they have.

“After a few months of looking at those different options, testing one idea and then another to see how they affect the way patients are moved through the system, we can select the strategies that have worked in the digital model, the specific ones in which we have high confidence for addressing the challenges faced by the hospitals, and apply them in the actual facilities,” he says.