Introduction: The Emergency Nurses Association and other groups have encouraged the adoption of patient flow improvement strategies to reduce ED crowding, but little is known about time and expenses associated with implementation. The purpose of this study was to estimate the time spent and expenses incurred as 6 Urgent Matters hospitals planned and implemented strategies to improve patient flow and reduce crowding.Methods: We conducted key informant interviews with members of the hospitals' patient flow improvement teams at 2 points in time: immediately after strategy implementation and approximately 6 months later. A total of 129 interviews were conducted using a semistructured interview protocol. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and coded for analysis.Results: Eight strategies were implemented. The time spent planning and implementing the strategies ranged from 40 to 1,017 hours per strategy. The strategies were largely led by nurses, and collectively, nurses spent more time planning and implementing strategies than others. The most time-consuming strategies were those that involved extensive staff training, large implementation teams, or complex process changes. Only 3 strategies involved sizable expenditures, ranging from $32,850 to $490,000. Construction and the addition of new personnel represented the most costly expenditures.Discussion: The time and expenses involved in the adoption of patient flow improvement strategies are highly variable. Nurses play an important role in leading and implementing these efforts. Hospital, ED, and nurse leaders should set realistic expectations for the time and expenses needed to support patient flow improvement.
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