Clinical Transformation Through Change Management Case Study: Chest Pain in the Emergency Department

From the Lancet:


Adults with chest pain presenting to an emergency department are high-risk and high-volume. A methodology which gathers practicing physicians together to review evidence and share practice experience to formulate a written algorithm with key decision points and measures is discussed with implementation, based on change management principles, and results.


A methodology was followed to “establish the standard-of-care”. Literature and data were reviewed, a written consensus algorithm was designed with ability to track adherence and deviations. We performed a before and after analysis of a performance improvement intervention in adult patients with undifferentiated chest pain in our nine-campus hospital system in Florida between January 1st, 2014 and December 31st, 2018.


A total of 200,691 patients were identified as adults with chest pain and the algorithm was used. A dramatic change in the disposition decision rate was noted. When the ‘Baseline-Year’ was compared with the ‘Performance-Year’, chest pain patients discharged from the ED increased by 99%, those going to the ‘Observation’ status decreased by 20%, and inpatient admissions decreased by 63% (p < 0.0001) All patients were tracked for 30-days for major adverse cardiac event (MACE) or return to the ED within the same system. If the s emergency physicians had not changed their practice/behavior and the Baseline-Year decision rate during the entire Performance-Year was unchanged, then 4563 more patients would have gone to Observation and 7986 patients to Inpatient. The opportunity costs avoided would be approximately $31million (US$.


For successful clinical transformation through change management, we learned: select strategic topics, get active physicians together, write a consensus algorithm with freedom to deviate, identify and remove barriers, communicate vision, pilot with feedback, implement, sustain by “hard wiring” into the electronic medical record and measure outputs.

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