Patients in our hospital have been experiencing increasing lengths of stay. Even when we control for acuity of illness, patients are staying at the hospital for longer today than they were two years ago. This does not improve patient outcomes, and it contributes high occupancy and lower financial efficiency. Some factors we believe may be contributing to the increasing length of stay include:
- We are experiencing growth in patient volumes and workloads are increasing across the hospital
- Accountability for discharge and discharge planning is unclear
- Discharge planning involves many different disciplines including nurses, physicians, therapies, and often social workers
- We have few performance indicators besides “length of stay” that allow us to drill down further to this problem
Can you suggest strategies or tools we can use to improve our efficiency around the discharge process so patients are staying the right amount of time?