Identifying Inefficiency: 3 Clinical Areas to Examine

Molly Gamble (Twitter) - Print  | 
Many health systems and hospitals have their backs against the wall — they can't spend any more without trimming some costs. Before turning to layoffs or other drastic measures, organizations can benefit from examining the clinical practices within their facilities to identify variations in care and other inefficiencies.

Here are a few areas to keep an eye on:

1. Treatments for common conditions and the usage of imaging equipment. Any variations in treatment for conditions such as sepsis and pneumonia, or inconsistent use of MRIs and clinical timeouts, can cost organizations a significant amount of money while weakening quality of care. Hospitals should use data over a three-year period of time to provide physicians with their own variation rates and strategies to help them improve.

2. Care for the elderly. A study has found that specializing care for older adults can save roughly $1,000 per patient. Researchers studied the Acute Care for Elders model, which includes a patient-centered approach to care that promotes independent functioning, early discharge planning and regular review of medical care. Patients involved in the model had a shorter length of stay — 6.7 days compared with 7.3 days for patients in the usual care group — thus reducing costs.

3. Huddle up. Daily huddles in the operating room can improve communication between physicians and staff, lead to greater employee satisfaction and patient experience, and increase efficiency by preventing delays and streamlining the process. By huddling prior to the scheduled cases, teams can determine if patients have transportation available to get to the hospital, if diabetes or any other chronic conditions will affect the timing of the procedure and if any other tests are needed that may delay the procedure. By communicating these issues beforehand and finding the best solution, the hospital is able to avoid having three- to four-hour cases cancelled and OR rooms sitting empty.

More Articles on Clinical Efficiency:

Reducing Variation in the Use of MRIs
Report Shows Variation in Quality Among Massachusetts Primary Care Providers
Verras Watson Tool Digs Deeper to Identify Clinical Variation

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