In the opener to our series on patient discharge performance improvement, we reviewed why project-based initiatives often fail to sustain long-term results. In summary, “Without a system-wide culture change along with the technology to allow cross-functional teams to easily obtain, collaborate, and act on the status of each unit and every patient within that unit, old habits return, delays creep back up, and eventually the same challenges resurface.”
In speaking with hospital leaders across the country, learning from the real-world experience of our internal clinical team, and analyzing the exploratory research and user insight by our product development team, we’ve developed our top 5 recommendations to create system-wide culture change and ensure sustainable discharge performance improvement.
1. Assign a Day-to-Day Operational Performance Leader
This is a designated individual who owns the initiative and is responsible for the daily coordination of care by the teams on the ground. Note that this cannot be a largely ceremonial title. This individual must have real authority or influence, be empowered to gather solid, reliable data from individual areas, break down barriers, and be provided the tools necessary to design, test, and implement improvements.
2. Develop a Coordinated System-Wide Patient Discharge Process
The organization as a whole must view the patient discharge process as a connected approach throughout each patient’s care progression, as well as understand the impact to the enterprise as a whole. Steps in the process cannot be managed in a silo. Consistent, sustainable discharge practice performance excellence demands a system-wide process that must be coordinated, proactive, and constantly adapting.
3. Implement a System for Accurate Predictive Insights
Once the right people and processes are in place, the organization must deliver the right data in advance of a capacity crisis to enable teams to take action. Understanding anticipated census, combined with early identification of the most likely discharges, allows all stages of care progression to be coordinated and connected. This allows everyone involved in discharge management and capacity planning to make a meaningful impact to ensure that patient length of stay is not unnecessarily extended, and beds are available for anticipated incoming patients.
4. Identify Patient Discharge Barriers and Recommended Actions for Each Stakeholder
With predicted census known and the most likely discharges identified, the organization must have a system that delivers real-time information and updates, provides specific recommended actions at the system and unit level to address and eliminate barriers to discharge (i.e., classification, outstanding tests, post-acute needs, and placement), and offers coordinated, cross-functional communication so everyone knows what they need to do to ensure success.
5. Eliminate Communication Silos
To reduce delays and duplicate efforts, manual, untimely, and inconsistent communication methods like phone calls, written notes, text messages, and emails must be eliminated. All cross-functional areas must work from a single source of truth to identify, understand, and address critical priorities, their specific action items, the current status, timelines for completion, and how events in one area affect all the others.
Improving Patient Discharge with Intelligent Automation
Today, AI-based operational management systems are available to hospitals and health systems of all sizes to address each of these recommendations. These systems deliver intelligent automation embedded within current operating procedures to provide predictive insights, recommend the most meaningful actions, streamline how work is done, and create a closed-loop process across the entire organization. AI-driven hospital operations management systems are no longer a future-state promise; they are working today to improve performance in hospitals across the country.
“Hospital IQ’s predictions have provided remarkable value in identifying high-priority patients, saving us considerable time prioritizing today’s patient discharges and enabling us to pre-plan tomorrow’s discharges.” – Dr. Brian Boggs, Vice President, Medical Affairs, Health First
For a more detailed look at how Hospital IQ’s Inpatient Solution is being used to optimize discharge practices, download the full whitepaper, Optimizing Hospital Discharge Practices through Intelligent Automation.
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