HOUSTON (September 21, 2009)

Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital recently launched a new, fast-paced program aimed at decreasing Emergency Center wait times. Called excelERate, the program incorporates a unique way of treating Emergency Center patients by focusing on efficiency and teamwork.

First piloted in May 2008 at Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center, excelERate reduces the amount of time needed for a patient to be seen and cared for by having caregivers work side-by-side to provide patient care. It operates in contrast to the typical model of emergency care, in which many steps are completed one at a time by different people, contributing to long wait periods for patients.

With excelERate, medical procedures are conducted simultaneously. In fact, certain lab tests can be performed right in the Emergency Center so caregivers receive access to the results sooner. Examples include urinalysis, pregnancy tests and more.

Since the program's inception at Memorial Hermann Southeast, abandonment rates - or the number of patients who leave without being seen by an Emergency Center physician - have dropped from a high of 15 percent to just under 2 percent. Additionally, patient satisfaction scores have soared, jumping from the bottom 10 percent in the nation to the 84th percentile.

"We have decreased our abandonment rate and the rate continues to drop," said Laura Rodriguez, director of critical care and emergency services at Memorial Hermann Southeast. "This means we're seeing more patients in a shorter time frame. Patients are waiting less and more patients are getting the treatment they need."