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Cost & Quality

Creating Self-Contained Emergency Department Pods/Fractals to Improve Flow

Date Published: April 2015

Emergency departments (EDs) have been and will continue to be one of the most crowded parts of a hospital. This is especially true with the potential influx of new patients unfamiliar with navigating healthcare that have recently gained health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. The urgency of care in the ED setting can quickly result in bottlenecks where patients in need of timely attention must wait instead. These unfortunate delays negatively impact both the patient and the care organization.

Many strategies have been developed that strive to improve ED efficiency and thereby increase patient flow. One of the more involved processes involves the creation of ED pods: self-contained teams within the ED that have their own set of beds, team leaders, and patients. Also sometimes known as “fractals” due to their replication of the greater ED structure on a smaller scale, this structure is beginning to see use at many organizations attempting to give ED staff greater autonomy to control flow as they deem best.

One large teaching hospital on the East Coast currently has a fourpod ED structure, with a fifth upcoming. The tactics this hospital has used throughout implementation can serve as a strong foundation fo

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