Patient transport services are an important staple in hospitals and have been for many decades. But what are the accepted performance standards that guide transport operations?

That’s a trick question because there aren’t any such standards, but transport leaders in 25 hospitals want to change that. The National Association of Healthcare Transport Management has teamed with asset tracking software vendor TeleTracking Technologies to collect and analyze benchmark data that can help identify appropriate productivity standards for patient transport departments and start the process of establishing best practices. The goal is to issue a report of initial findings this fall.

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The 25 initial hospitals are all clients of TeleTracking and will be submitting historical data to the vendor to start to better understand such metrics as request time (time between a request and dispatch of at transporter), transport time (job assignment to completion), and overall transport completion time (from initial request to job completion). Future studies could assess standards for environment services, admission and discharge benchmarks, and referral patterns.

While the project starts with just TeleTracking, as it progresses the company may solicit other patient transport vendors to contribute data that can be incorporated into the study and further inform development of performance measures, says Tom Perry, product manager.

Pulling in more data sources could take a couple of years as data measurements between vendors vary and will need to be reconciled, notes Pamela Douglas-Ntagha, DNP, director of patient resources at MD Anderson Cancer Center and president of the National Association of Healthcare Transport Management.

Performance benchmarks likely will vary depending on the size and resources of hospitals so that facilities of similar size and resources are held to the same realistic standards. A Level 1 hospital with 1,000 beds will have different outcomes than a community hospital, and the standards it is being held to also should be different, Perry says.

Getting standards for patient transport is important to raising service levels and the status of transport departments, Douglas-Ntagha says. “To have a service that is highly visible and not have benchmarks is a hardship for us to become more professional.  My hospital does 30,000 transports a month—is that good or bad? How do I know how I’m serving my patients?

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