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A direct shot for direct admissions

January 2013

Published in the January 2013 issue of Todays Hospitalist

MUJTABA ALI-KHAN, DO, knows all about the problems with direct admissions from his three years working as a primary care physician and his four years as a practicing hospitalist.

As an outpatient physician, he could never find the right hospitalist to get a direct admission rolling, so he was stuck sending patients to the ED where they would wait hours. And as a hospitalist, he could never get enough information from a referring doctor or facility to judge whether a direct admission was warranted. “Communication just fell apart,” he says.

So within a year of starting a hospitalist program at Conroe Regional Medical Center in Conroe, Texas, Dr. Ali-Khan and his partner Ali Bhuriwala, MD, created a solution: the Direct Admit System for Hospitals (DASH).

When outpatient physicians or facilities want to admit a patient, they log onto www.DASHadmit.com, which they can access via a smartphone app or by clicking on a DASH USB button. They answer questions about the patient on a direct admission form, and the system then sends a text alert to both the hospitalists and the bed coordinator at the hospital. The on-call hospitalist clicks to accept (or deny) the admission while the bed coordinator assigns a bed, if available “all from the DASH app.

Initially, the system was used by a dozen referring practices and facilities in Texas. “It was something to improve communication and develop our business,” Dr. Ali-Khan says. But when the increased admissions caught the eye of HCA, which owns the hospital where Dr. Ali-Khan practices, he and his partner moved to get a patent and make the system more robust.

Today, referring physicians and institutions can upload electronic medical records, faxes, PDFs or ECGs to the DASH site and do physician-to-physician direct communication. Once the hospitalist accepts the patient, the DASH system sends to the referring office or facility a “boarding pass,” which patients print and bring to the hospital. The pass comes with a code that, when scanned, alerts everyone in the hospital that the patient has arrived.

The system is now used at Conroe Regional and Clear Lake Regional Medical Center in Webster, Texas, and it is about to be rolled out at other Gulf Coast HCA facilities. To date, it has helped process more than 700 direct admissions, with demonstrated reductions in hospital costs, as well as improved throughput and patient satisfaction.

For more information, see www.streamlinedmedical.com.