Urgent Matters

Urgent Matters was a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) that aimed to relieve emergency department overcrowding, improve patient care and increase patient satisfaction. The program also sought to use the example of emergency departments to help communities understand the interdependence between the health care safety net—of which emergency departments are a key component—and the rest of the health care delivery system.

All Urgent Matters hospitals reduced patient wait times in several areas within the emergency department.

Urgent Matters developed a toolkit of strategies to achieve best practices for improving patient flow both in an emergency room and throughout a hospital. In February 2011, updated toolkit was made available to the public. This toolkit currently contains 55 strategies with 95 associated tools. Each strategy includes information on the hospital where the strategy was piloted, associated tools, and a description of the strategy implementation and outcomes.

In 2005, the Joint Commission, based in Chicago, which accredits hospitals, added a new requirement for hospital accreditation prompted in part by the work of Urgent Matters, according to National Program Director Bruce Siegel, MD, MPH. The standard requires that hospital leaders develop and implement plans to identify and lessen impediments to efficient patient flow throughout the hospital.