The Western Australia (WA) Government has launched a new Patient Transport Coordination Hub (PaTCH) to enhance the efficiency of planned transfers between hospitals.
This hub has been introduced as part of the WA Government’s strategy to tackle the root causes of ambulance ramping in the state.
PaTCH is expected to improve the management of non-emergency patient transfers between hospitals and optimise the use of ambulance services for low and medium-acuity interhospital patient transfers.
It was initially piloted at East Metropolitan Health Service (EMHS) last year to coordinate transfers from EMHS hospitals.
The programme is now being permanently implemented at EMHS and is set to expand to other metropolitan areas in the upcoming weeks.
PaTCH operates daily from 6am to 10pm, with dedicated staff responsible for booking, scheduling, and allocating non-emergency patient transport.
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By consolidating various booking systems into a single streamlined process, the hub aims to improve efficiency for healthcare professionals and enhance the patient experience.
As a component of the State Health Operations Centre (SHOC), PaTCH will work in conjunction with the new WA Virtual Emergency Department (WAVED).
This integration is designed to provide a seamless service for patients who require non-urgent transport to a clinic or hospital for care but do not need to visit an emergency department.
The hub is expected to coordinate approximately 77,000 patient trips annually, which includes 23,000 hospital-to-hospital transfers.
According to 2023 data, emergency departments in WA saw 1.1 million visits, resulting in dispatch of 265,000 emergency ambulances. This is over 5,000 higher compared to the prior year.
WA Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson said: “Along with other improvements across our health system, PaTCH is about providing more suitable pathways for our patients.
“PaTCH will improve collaboration between transport providers and our hospitals, ensuring the best possible patient experience.”
The launch of PaTCH is also part of a broader A$487m ($321m) investment by the WA Government to improve emergency care access and patient flow across the state.