Cutting Wait Times: Huntsville Hospital Works With UAH To Fight Wait Times, Inefficiency

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If you get stuck in the emergency room at Huntsville Hospital, you might not have to wait as long.

A partnership between the medical facility and the University of Alabama in Huntsville could improve your care.

Deep inside the Von Braun Research Hall at UAH, through the dingy corridors, past a labeled set of double doors, you find office D14.  Inside, a man inhales oxygen and exhales efficiency.

UAH Research Scientist Joe Paxton admits, "I go into a restaurant. Well, if they move this over here and did this differently..."

His nameplate sits under a row of books on best practices.

Efficiency defines Paxton's research and work at the university, probably a decent bit of his life too.

He describes it as "a disease."

Maybe that's why he took on Huntsville Hospital.  Right now he works to make the small city of medical buildings run more smoothly.

Everything from registration to the supply rooms face scrutiny from Paxton's team at UAH.

In the end, it should help the people who wind up in the hospital rooms most of all.

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Huntsville Hospital's Vice President of Emergency Services Tracy Doughty explains, "They ask questions that we don't normally think about. Sometimes you get into doing things the old way, and it's always been done that way. They're questioning everything we do and making us take a second look at all of our processes."

Paxton adds, "It's really difficult when you're down in the forest to be able to see things that you do on a day-to-day basis that don't add value."

They've already made progress, eliminating steps in the ER registration process.

The hospital says they've cut 12 minutes off of every ER visit. They get 94,000 visitors a year. That means they'll save a total of 18,800 hours.

So for every engineer in Huntsville who paid a visit to the hospital and thought "I could do this better," rest assured, the hospital will hear a lot more of voices just like yours.


  • Gail Beard Christian

    Thing is you have to give them time to research the entire process and then for the hospital to initiate and become comfortable (seamless) with a new process; this takes time. Was part of the time you were waiting in the ER time waiting for a bed? I understand there was a large number of patients this past week. Also in that wait time, you may be one of the people using the ER properly, not using it as your primary care facility/provider. The people who don’t have (and sometimes simply don’t bother to have) a primary care physician and use the R for that function make it longer and more unpleasant for those who truly need it; and believe me, those who simply use the ER as their doctor know all the buzzwords to get them to the back quickly. Once when i was there, I overheard a man tell someone who appeared to be with him (they had been griping for a long time about the wait) “watch this” and went to the desk, told them he was having difficulty breathing, that he was suffocating and his chest was starting to hurt………he went back moments later…….because folks soon find out that you can’t take a chance with a heart attack. It’s not all the hospital’s fault, folks; please give them time and applaud their efforts to try to make things better!

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