Healthcare HHS Patient Flow

Centralized Patient Transport Improving Overall Hospital Throughput

By Jaime Ptacek, Director, Patient Transport

Patient transport teams have an opportunity to make a big impact on the overall throughput of a hospital. Throughput times are key to patient satisfaction, and if not managed appropriately, they can cause bottlenecks in patient flow operations. However, not all transport teams are created equal—the type of transport team the hospital has can greatly impact the throughput times. There are two different types of patient transport teams within healthcare: centralized and decentralized. Both models have their own unique benefits and opportunities, but one model stands out in overall performance and efficiency. 

Decentralized Model vs. Centralized Model

In a decentralized model, transporters belongs to one unit; for example, a transporter for the MRI department. A decentralized transporter will bring patients to and from their MRI, but while the MRI is being performed, which can sometimes take up to an hour, the transporter has nothing to do and therefore is unproductive. 

In a centralized model, transporters are trained in all areas of the hospital and can remain productive while scans and tests are being performed. While one patient gets an MRI done, their transporter can go to the emergency room to admit another patient. This eliminates the unproductive time of transporters found in the decentralized model and increases the overall throughput of all departments at the facility, providing a number of benefits. These benefits include an increase in bed availability, radiology scans that can be performed, number of surgical cases, and the facility’s overall profit margin. 

Impact of High Throughput Times

Centralized patient transport teams not only have a major impact on overall throughput, but they also diminish charges that inefficient hospitals may face—such as patient hold times in the emergency room or in the operating room. When a patient gets held in the operating room, it can cost upwards of $1000 per minute due to the patient being under the care of a surgeon and an anesthesiologist. Patients often get held in the operating room when there are delays in throughput. 

These delays can be related to a variety of reasons, such as equipment availability, bed availability, staffing, and transport delays to name a few. Efficient centralized patient transport teams help to decrease those delays by maximizing productivity. 

Evaluating your healthcare facility’s transport team is the first step to improving throughput times. A centralized model offers many benefits that can impact overall patient satisfaction by reducing wait times, increasing bed availability, and keeping patients moving throughout the facility.