Bed Exchange Data System

To assist in the quality and efficient care of patients and community members, a group of social workers and other Thompson Health associates developed a unique Web site system. Thompson Health, based in Canandaigua, New York, offers a continuum of care from independent living to hospital services.

The Bed Exchange Data System or BEDS Web site ( was created in a coordinated community effort led by Thompson Health to facilitate the transition of patients to nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, adult homes, medical adult day programs, and home care agencies in the Finger Lakes/Greater Rochester, New York, region. Strong ties among community agencies and facilities served as the foundation for the development of BEDS. The goal is to bridge the gaps in the processes that affect access to care, especially for the elderly and for those needing temporary or chronic care.

The BEDS Web site is a database that provides up-to-date information regarding facilities and their bed availability and agencies with a description of the services they provide. BEDS can be used in three ways: (1) Facilities can log in their bed availability and a description of their facility including a link to their Web site, (2) healthcare professionals who assist in the placement of individuals into these facilities can access the site to find a facility with an available room that meets the needs of their clients, and (3) agencies and facilities can access the site to obtain information regarding the services provided by the agencies and facilities that have registered.

Concept is born

Prior to the BEDS Web site, there was no central mechanism for facilities to communicate their vacancies. The concept arose during discussions among team members at Thompson Health and through collaboration with community agencies regarding the challenges in obtaining alternate living arrangements within our community, including from home, adult homes, assisted living facilities, emergency departments, and hospitals. BEDS was the result of a “Do-It-Group” or DIG, which is one of Thompson Health’s quality improvement processes to solve a problem or explore an opportunity. The goals of the BEDS DIG initiative were to link patients and families in finding the facilities and services of their choice, to strengthen communication among the region’s facilities and agencies, to promote efficiency in the placement process, to increase facility occupancy, and to reduce hospital length of stay.

There are currently 60 agencies and facilities spanning nine counties using the BEDS Web site. These include nursing homes, adult homes, assisted living facilities, local government agencies, retirement communities, and home care agencies. Thompson Health’s entities, including F.F. Thompson Hospital, M.M. Ewing Continuing Care Center, Clark Meadows Enriched Living, and The Brighter Day Medical Adult Day Program, have experienced the benefits of the Web site.

Positive feedback

Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. The president and CEO of a nearby skilled nursing facility/rehabilitation center, wrote that the Web site is “a great tool for locating placement options at your fingertips while allowing members to share bed availability with potential referral sources.” He also called it “long overdue.” The social worker/admissions director at a local skilled nursing facility said, “I have used the Web site to assist residents in obtaining placement closer to their families and to facilitate transfers to lower levels of care such as assisted living facilities and adult homes. The site is easy to use.”

The director of admissions for four skilled nursing facilities in the region hails the BEDS Web site as nothing short of “Wonderful. It’s a resource for community discharge planners to look at opportunities, and for long-term care facilities to advertise their availability, so it’s a central clearinghouse that serves a dual purpose,” she said, adding that BEDS is a “win-win” from her standpoint, because there is no cost to her facilities and minimal time commitment. One of Thompson’s per diem social workers uses the Web site in her social work position at a local dialysis clinic when a clinic patient needs placement in a nursing home. She checks the Web site to see what beds are available. “It’s improved things greatly,” she says.

Cost savings

This innovative initiative has resulted in cost savings. Associates who created the Web site estimated that prior to BEDS, social workers might have made as many as 20 calls to locate an available skilled nursing facility bed for a patient with annual cost to Thompson of approximately $10,010.

We realize we are in the early stages of the BEDS Web site. There is substantial opportunity for its growth, and we are confident in its potential. Currently, facilities are updating their bed availability routinely. The goal is to increase the number of registered facilities, in addition to increasing the participation and usage. We would like all facilities within a 50-mile radius to register, including more hospitals. Dedication and commitment among the community served by the BEDS site remains strong, as does the confidence that partners will continue to appreciate its mutual benefits.

Strong administrative support from our host organization, Thompson Health, has been instrumental, critical, and ongoing. Through local grant funding, continual updates are being made to make the site more user-friendly and efficient. For example, BEDS now allows facilities to enter the specific type of bed available, e.g., long-term care, rehab, male, female, or dementia. The low monthly cost for hosting the site is funded by Thompson Health. There is no cost to participating facilities and agencies. A per-diem social worker connects with facilities and agencies to assure their needs are being met and to market the Web site to other potential partners.

Medical social workers advocate for their patients and family members. They spend a considerable amount of time seeking appropriate placement for patients from home, an assisted living facility, or a hospital. Thompson Health Associates involved in creating and using BEDS have learned through an overwhelming response over the past several months that there is indeed a great need for this tool for sharing information. As one social worker put it, “Once we get everybody to update their availability on a regular basis, I think it’ll be that much more useful. I think it’s just the tip of the iceberg right now.”

Mary Savastano, LMSW, is Director, Case Management/Social Work at Thompson Health, Canandaigua, New York. She can be reached at

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Long-Term Living 2009 October;58(10):54-55

Topics: Articles , Facility management , Technology & IT