Proactive patient "stay and day" management: How to provide patients an uninterrupted care journey and create capacity

Patient discharge processes are often riddled with unnecessary delays, slowing patient throughput, creating bottlenecks, putting pressure on margins and straining much-needed capacity. But hospital leaders are increasingly turning to length-of-stay management in an effort to solve these challenges.

In an October Becker's Hospital Review webinar sponsored by Hospital IQ, Lee Wallace and Rob Grayhek, RN, both clinical outcomes advisors for Hospital IQ, discussed these ideas and shared insights into how intelligent automation, combined with proven strategies, can streamline discharge processes and improve and increase access to care. 

Three key learnings were: 

  1. Systemic issues create a reactive, inefficient culture when it comes to throughput management. Those issues include misaligned priorities; assorted barriers such as discharge delays, staff shortages, variable demand and inaccurate information; and siloed communication. Everyone is prioritizing the patient, of course, Mr. Grayhek said. But the imaging department, for example, may be working on orders as they come in, rather than according to a system that prioritizes discharge; this affects discharge if a patient cannot be discharged until imaging is complete. That can lead to delays and excess days in the hospital, raising the overall cost of care. 

"Everybody's thinking about the patient . . . and they're aligning their work to take care of the patient," Mr. Grayhek said. "The question becomes, is the work that they're doing aligned to each other so that it furthers the patient through their transition of care?"

2. Technology can help by dynamically managing capacity, preparing staff and removing operational silos. Solutions like Hospital IQ help healthcare systems develop effective workflows by integrating with multiple data sources, from the EHR to case management tools, and then using artificial intelligence to power intelligent automation. Hospital IQ then uses proven strategies to help hospitals adopt a framework that includes: 

    • Designating a throughput leader. Having an individual in charge of driving action across teams is key to expediting the daily discharge process.
    • Proactively managing the patient's "stay." This ensures an uninterrupted patient care journey and increased capacity by getting ahead of potential barriers before they happen, communicating seamlessly and easily tracking progress.
    • Proactively managing the patient's "day." Discharging the right patient at the right time requires that care teams are empowered to identify those patients and align with one plan across teams.
  1. Operational intelligence gets results. Results from some Hospital IQ clients — where enterprise-wide automation has enabled streamlined discharge processes — include elimination of 517 avoidable days, a 13-hour reduction in length of stay and a 10 percent decrease in discharge processing time with 23 percent increase in census. Staff love the tool "because it's easy," Mr. Wallace said. "They're getting timely information, they're able to make decisions and most importantly drive outcomes. And it's integrated with their systems, and they're not having to do excess work with different documentation and tools." 

Hospital IQ's solution integrates with existing systems and data sources to dynamically and successfully break down barriers and communication silos across teams, then uses AI to help teams maximize patient throughput. That reduces costs, ensures a smoother patient journey and opens up much-needed capacity.


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