A one-hour reduction in the average emergency department boarding time could result in millions of dollars a year in revenue for hospitals that implement bed-management strategies, according to a study published online April 19 in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

"This study helps debunk the conventional wisdom that boarding patients in the ER maximizes hospital profits," Jesse M. Pines, M.D., of George Washington University in Washington, D.C., stated in a press release from the American College of Emergency Physicians.

Pines was the lead author of the study in which researchers created models to determine what combination of ED admissions and scheduled admissions leads to highest hospital revenues. They determined that when hospital occupancy reached a certain point, a reduction of scheduled admissions of only 5 percent would lead to an increase in hospital revenue of $7,418 a day.

"The optimal strategies we tested resulted in at least $2.7 million more a year for the hospital," said co-author Robert J. Batt of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. "A small adjustment in scheduled admissions now and then could have a big impact on both patient health and the hospital's bottom line.