Administration of Emergency Medicine| Volume 43, ISSUE 4, P728-735, October 2012

Development of a University-based Emergency Department Network: Lessons Learned



      As part of the growth of emergency medical care in our state, our university-based emergency medicine practice developed a network of affiliated emergency department (ED) practices. The original practices were academic and based on a faculty practice model; more recent network development incorporated a community practice model less focused on academics.


      This article discusses the growth of that network, with a focus on the recent addition of a county-wide two-hospital emergency medicine practice. During the transition of the two EDs from a contract management group to the university network, six critical areas in need of restructuring were identified: 1) departmental leadership, 2) recruitment and retention of clinical staff members, 3) staffing strategies, 4) relationships with key constituents, 5) clinical operations, supplies, and equipment, and 6) compensation structure. The impact of changes was measured by comparison of core measures, efficiency metrics, patient volumes, admissions, and transfers to the academic medical center before and after the implementation of our practice model.


      Our review and modification of these components significantly improved the quality and efficiency of care at the community hospital system. The consistent presence of board certified emergency physicians optimized utilization of clinical resources in the community hospital and the academic health system. This dynamic led to a mutually beneficial merger of these major state healthcare systems.


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