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Hospital Flow Professional Development Program


To deliver high standards of safe, person-centered care, it is critical to provide the right care, in the right place, at the right time. The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) understands the vexing problems and the effective solutions needed to make substantial improvement in patient flow throughout the hospital. 

IHI's five-day Hospital Flow Professional Development Program guides teams through an in-depth examination of high-leverage strategies to improve hospital flow. Working closely with expert faculty and hospital leaders who have achieved exemplary patient flow outcomes, participants develop or refine customized action plans to address their own organizations' unique opportunities for improvement. ​​​​​​​​​​​

The High Stakes of Suboptimal Flow 

​Optimizing patient flow throughout the hospital is essential to ensuring safe, high-quality, patient-centered care. Providing timely access to appropriate care and optimizing hospital flow are both critical levers to increasing value for patients, clinicians, and health care systems. ​

Poorly managed flow has critical implications, such as: 

  • Delaying treatments 
  • Failing to provide the right care, in the right place, at the right time 
  • Putting patients at risk for potential harm and less than optimal care
  • Increasing the burden on clinicians and accelerateing burnout

Many recognize that diversions, long waits, and delays in the emergency department (ED) are a hospital-wide issue, not solely an ED issue. Waits are often the result of ED beds being occupied by patients waiting for admission to the hospital. Lack of inpatient capacity also results in patients being “boarded” in the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) and often managed on “off service” units.

Yet, while many understand the problem, they don’t often have the strategies needed to address hospital-wide patient flow.​​​​​​​​​



Learn from the Success of Others

Designed for a ​​​team or individuals​ who are tasked with hospital operations, throughput, and ensuring optimal patient flow in the acute care hospital, this intensive IHI program helps participants:
  • Make sense of the variety of hospital-wide strategies a​nd approaches needed to deliver the righ​t care, in the right place, at the right time
  • Assess the current state of patient flow and identify m​ajor opportunities for improvement
  • Implement actionable strategies, skills, and data analytics that help ensure that hospital capacity can meet the demands for hospital services — daily, weekly, and seasonally – to:
    • Prevent diversions and overcrowding in EDs
    • Eliminate waits and delays for surgical procedures, treatments, and admissions to inpatient beds
    • Redesign surgical scheduling to improve throughout and to improve patient flow to intensive care units (ICUs) and inpatient units
    • Reduce the need for regular surge plans and excessive overtime
    • Increase the number of patients admitted to the appropriate inpatient unit, based on a patient’s clinical condition
    • Utilize case management strategies to reduce the length of stay for "outliers"
    • Decrease inpatient volume by implementing proactive palliative care programs and strategies to reduce readmissions
    • Calculate the return on investment
  • Leverage opportunities to collaborate with expert faculty and successful hospital leaders to develop or refine a detailed, customized plan 

To deliver high standards of safe, person-centered care, it is critical to provide the right care, in the right place, at the right time. Take action now to address growing issues around patient flow — and realize the value across your organization.