Introduction: An important challenge physicians face when treating acute heart failure (AHF) patients in the emergency department (ED) is deciding whether to admit or discharge, with or without early follow-up. The overall goal of our project was to improve care for AHF patients seen in the ED while avoiding unnecessary hospital admissions. The specific goal was to introduce hospital rapid referral clinics to ensure AHF patients were seen within 7 days of ED discharge. Methods: This prospective before-after study was conducted at two campuses of a large tertiary care hospital, including the EDs and specialty outpatient clinics. We enrolled AHF patients ≥50 years who presented to the ED with shortness of breath (<7 days). The 12-month before (control) period was separated from the 12-month after (intervention) period by a 3-month implementation period. Implementation included creation of rapid access AHF clinics staffed by cardiology and internal medicine, and development of referral procedures. There was extensive in-servicing of all ED staff. The primary outcome measure was hospital admission at the index visit or within 30 days. Secondary outcomes included mortality and actual access to rapid follow-up. We used segmented autoregression analysis of the monthly proportions to determine whether there was a change in admissions coinciding with the introduction of the intervention and estimated a sample size of 700 patients. Results: The patients in the before period (N = 355) and the after period (N = 374) were similar for age (77.8 vs. 78.1 years), arrival by ambulance (48.7% vs 51.1%), comorbidities, current medications, and need for non-invasive ventilation (10.4% vs. 6.7%). Comparing the before to the after periods, we observed a decrease in hospital admissions on index visit (from 57.7% to 42.0%; P <0.01), as well as all admissions within 30 days (from 65.1% to 53.5% (P < 0.01). The autoregression analysis, however, demonstrated a pre-existing trend to fewer admissions and could not attribute this to the intervention (P = 0.91). Attendance at a specialty clinic, amongst those discharged increased from 17.8% to 42.1% (P < 0.01) and the median days to clinic decreased from 13 to 6 days (P < 0.01). 30-day mortality did not change (4.5% vs. 4.0%; P = 0.76). Conclusion: Implementation of rapid-access dedicated AHF clinics led to considerably increased access to specialist care, much reduced follow-up times, and possible reduction in hospital admissions. Widespread use of this approach can improve AHF care in Canada.