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Patient discharge times have long been a difficult sticking point for many hospitals. The process can feel exceptionally long and drawn-out, leaving hospital staff, patients, and their loved ones frustrated when they are finally getting out the door. Reducing this time and the rate of readmission is something that many hospitals regularly list as areas in need of improvement.
The discharge process brings a lot of entities within the hospital system together from admin staff to doctors and pharmacists to the patients themselves. Small blunders during the discharge process can lead to major headaches such as longer hospital stays, more charges, and few available beds for other incoming patients.
Though these are typically two top priorities for many hospitals, rates seem to be stubbornly stuck and don’t move downward as much as desired. With the advent of new technologies, however, there is substantial hope for new improvements that could profoundly drop both discharge times and reentry rates in one fell swoop. Tech could be the difference that helps hospitals reach their goals.
Optimizing Electronic Health Records Workflows
The majority of hospitals have implemented at least some form of electronic health records (EHRs) at this point. EHRs allow patient information to travel in a digital format that makes it easier both to share information amongst healthcare professionals involved in patient care and to keep all the data in an organized fashion. Much in the same way that EHRs help the rest of the patient care stay organized, EHRs with optimization tools can also be used to help with improving discharge times by upwards of 25%.
Improvements in data management, especially when it comes to discharges, are critical components of enhancing the overall patient experience. For many hospitals, this comes down to setting goals and accomplishing them promptly. It also comes down to leaders working towards improving communication amongst professionals in different departments.
An example of how this can be done is by delegating a nurse discharge advocate. The nurse helps with all of the coordination within the hospital that will help get the patient on the road. This person would make sure the pharmacist has communicated with the patient. He or she would also work on tasks such as arranging follow-up appointments, reviewing medication reconciliations, and conducting any necessary patient education.
Capitalizing on Analytics
Data analytics can also play a large role in helping to determine when a patient is ready to go home and getting them out the door. Business or data analytics is a set of statistical tools and algorithms that can determine weak points in a system. They can remove human biases and perceptions and identify areas for improvement not previously considered.
The tool can actually be used throughout the hospital process. For example, data analytics can assess similar patients or similar cases and consolidate positive outcomes to help doctors determine the best route of care for a patient. Analytics can also assess how patients like to receive information or certain types of care and enable doctors to adapt their treatment strategies to that.
Analytics can also tie into other healthcare technologies such as EHRs and intelligent automation to help identify when preparations for discharge should be started. Intelligent automation can work to increase communication and start gathering paperwork without being completely managed by an admin professional. It can make a huge difference in streamlining a tedious process.
Discharge times can be one of the biggest lags in patient care in some hospitals. Getting the process done quickly and correctly can be enhanced using technologies such as EHRs and data analytics. With the help of technology, many hospitals may start to see declines in times and increases in patient satisfaction.