Six reasons hospitals should consider clinical integration

Despite significant overlap in workflow and processes, most clinical service lines operate as distinct entities and often have a “silo mentality.”

But operating as separate entities can lead to confusion and frustration for physicians, clinical staff and patients. When hospitals are clinically integrated, all relevant departments and healthcare providers work together — from the time a patient enters the hospital, throughout their hospital experience and into the post-discharge period. Clinical integration enhances physician accountability for shared clinical standards while creating economies of scale and greater operational efficiencies that ultimately improve the patient experience.

When departmental “silos” are removed, clinicians discover new and innovative ways to work together that benefit the patient and the hospital. For hospital administrators who have not explored clinical integration, here are six reasons why you should consider this more coordinated, cohesive way of providing patient care.

1. Improve Quality and Safety Outcomes

When members of a patient’s care team work together throughout the patient’s hospital stay, there are fewer chances for miscommunication or errors. Integrating services allows for better process flow and coordination of care, which in turn helps improve patient safety and the quality of care clinicians provide.

2. Enhance the Patient Experience

By developing a comprehensive approach to integrating services, clinicians can better streamline patient care, like improved ED throughput and patient handoffs, and ensure continuity of care. From smoother patient handoffs to more efficient throughput, the patient experience improvements can be substantial. Patients report higher levels of satisfaction when they know their caregivers are communicating with one another and working as a team to provide the best care possible.

3. Improve Clinician Engagement and Satisfaction

Clinicians can encounter unnecessary roadblocks because of lack of collective accountability and relationships across service lines. By working together to establish and implement processes and protocols among different departments, physicians and advanced practice clinicians enjoy greater collaboration and communication with their colleagues, and the chance to deliver better, more efficient care. This can have a positive impact on turnover rates.

4. Boost Hospital Staff Engagement

When hospital departments and clinicians focus more on protecting their particular “silo” than coordinating for the benefit of patients, it can result in unhealthy conflicts — and often hospital staff find themselves in the middle. Clinical integration promotes shared incentives among clinicians and this can help drive improved communication and a healthier work life among all employees throughout the hospital.

5. Improve Reportable Hospital Metrics

The positive impact of clinical integration can include improvements in ED throughput and average length of stay because patients move through the hospital more efficiently, often shortening their time as an inpatient; improved HCHAPS scores due to increased patient satisfaction because their clinicians are working as a team; and fewer readmissions as a result of improved inpatient processes and better post-discharge planning.

6. Establish the Groundwork for Value-Based Care

Transitioning to a value based care model is quickly becoming the recommended solution for rising healthcare costs and clinical inefficiencies. To achieve pay-for-performance and bundled payment success, it is more critical than ever that clinical services are integrated. These reimbursement models are dependent on care coordination to improve patient outcomes and reduce costs.

Hospitals that succeed in breaking down silos across service lines create new efficiencies; reduce duplication of cost; drive accountability among physicians and staff; and redefine, reconfigure and improve the patient process.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of Becker's Hospital Review/Becker's Healthcare. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.

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