Assistant Nurse Director Laurie Rotondo takes notes during a call in the Brigham Health Access Center.

The new Brigham Health Access Center, launched at midnight on April 1, centrally manages referrals to the Brigham’s Emergency Department (ED) and inpatient units. Its goal is to facilitate timely, high-quality and safe patient transfers in just one phone call.

A team of nurses and transfer access coordinators triage transfer requests from area hospitals. The center’s staff ensures patients are sent to the most appropriate location for care, whether that is the ED or an inpatient unit at BWH or BWFH.

“Our goal is to provide a seamless process for our referring facilities and physicians to get easy access to Brigham Health. A centralized approach really simplifies the process for our care partners in the community,” said Sheila Harris, executive director of the Brigham Health Access Center and Patient Access Services.

The Access Center was formed to make the transfer process more efficient, in light of growing transfer volume at BWH in recent years.

Previously, personnel in the ED and Admitting operated independently from each other. For example, ED flow managers handled requests for transfers, but that model posed challenges. Primarily, flow managers had limited insight into bed availability across the institution, Harris explained.

“Based in Admitting, the Access Center team uses a centralized approach to review real-time information about inpatient bed availability,” she said.

In addition, handling transfer requests was just one of many duties for the flow manager on a given shift. If he or she was on another call or had stepped away, the delay might prompt the outside hospital to hang up and try another facility.

“By having a knowledgeable, experienced and caring staff dedicated solely to transfers 24 hours a day, seven days a week, we are enabling more patients to access the high-quality care that Brigham Health is known for,” said Eric Goralnick, MD, MS, medical director of the Brigham Health Access Center and Emergency Preparedness.

All calls to the Access Center are recorded, and surveys are sent to referring providers to gather feedback, with the aim of identifying ways the center can continually improve the transfer experience. In the future, the team hopes to incorporate telemedicine as another tool for receiving transfers.

Ali Salim, MD, chief of the Division of Trauma, Burns and Critical Care, said he looks forward working with the center.

“This is a phenomenal opportunity to ensure that patients are transferred to us efficiently and smoothly,” Salim said. “It will undoubtedly benefit our patients and our community care partners.”

Brigham Health’s Strategy in Action: Timely Access
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