Using technology to automate time and labor intensive discharge workflows for complex patients can improve patient outcomes and reduce total cost of care.
Even with all of the change and disruption happening within healthcare today, one thing that remains constant and challenging is the discharge of patients from the hospital setting to post-acute care, especially for complex patients. Acute care hospitals are for short stay patients by design, and that is how they are reimbursed for care as well. There are incentives for both the hospital and patient to leave the hospital once they have received the care they need and can safely be discharged. It is not so simple for sicker, complex patients or those with socioeconomic factors that prevent safe discharge to the community.
Once a person enters the doors of a hospital, that organization is responsible for the care and safe discharge of that patient. Sometimes there are factors that prevent the safe discharge of the patient from a hospital, even when they are ready to leave. For example, imagine a patient who has behavioral health issues with no supporting family willing to assume responsibility and they are unable to access mental health treatment because they don’t have the right resources or medical insurance. Multiple factors are now preventing the safe transition of this patient to the community. The process to obtain all this information and arrange discharge options can take a long time and requires extensive hospital resources, causing the patient to be in an environment that can affect their psychological and physical well-being.
But it is not just the patient that is struggling. Because of the way hospitals are paid for inpatient care under the DRG system, health systems must also deal with the cost of unreimbursed associated care for these complex cases, as well as losing revenue due to the length of stay delay. The administrative obstacles staff faces sometimes are forgotten, not to mention the safety and well-being of the staff as well. With creating short term solutions for long term, some ideas can be brought into play. Using today’s technology that can help provide data to educate whether the patient should enter an emergency department or finding a better long-term care, can speed up that process of making the decision quickly.
Having the right tools in place and education for staff, can create an easier way to identify and work with complex cases earlier in the inpatient hospital stay. Automating some of the manual work by identifying exactly what is a complex case within the health system. Once that decision has been made as a whole, then the health system can take it the step further by automatically labeling the patient as complex from the get-go. Having a team that is dedicated and trained on these specific individual complex cases, the process can be addressed in a timely manner and cause less confusion. Developing that extra step within the discharge process, can help reduce the delay for the patient and hospitals sake. Much of that can be done today with automation technology.
Even though this issue isn’t new, it’s still a work in progress and a challenge for many hospitals. At Repisodic, we make it easier to identify, engage, and discharge these complex cases to the appropriate next level of care to reduce length of stay barriers. Our EHR-integrated platform automates the identification and much of the discharge planning process for complex patients. It speeds up the placement of these patients to safe post-discharge care settings in the community. With technology, education, training, leadership, and the right tools provided it is possible to continue to improve and bridge the gap between hospital-based healthcare and social determinants of health. Reach out today if this is an area of interest that you would like to explore more.