Decreasing length of stay has become a focus for providers and administrators, in no small part because Medicare's payment system focuses on it. It's certainly about more than following the regulation du jour, however. A decreased length of stay remains crucial in cutting costs, freeing up providers, and getting folks home to recover.
That said, we've noticed that in the rush to decrease length of stay, some hospitals and providers are getting in their own way. Good intentions are even leading to longer lengths of stay in some cases. Plus, healthcare provider burnout can be exacerbated when providers don't have the tools to shift the metrics they're responsible for. And burned-out providers can't help anyone in the ways they want to. So, to help keep you working happily, simply, and well…
3 length-of-stay mistakes to avoid (that you may not even know you're making):
- Focusing on length of stay. As important as decreasing length of stay can be, the truth is that dropping length of stay is not nearly as important as avoiding readmissions. And there may even be a tradeoff -- a decrease in length of stay is often linked to an uptick in readmissions. So keep the whole picture in mind when discharging a patient, and never let a single metric (or administrators' initiative) rule the day.
- Doing it all yourself. Care coordination and efficient medical collaboration may be one of the strongest ways to decrease length of stay. It turns out that the lack of coordination and planning among collaborators on a case can be one of the strongest influences on how long the patient stays in the hospital.
- Treating all patients equally. The Mayo Clinic dropped their length of stay by 20% with a simple initiative: treat different people differently. In other words, rather than a doctor treating all of their patients the same (either being very conservative about discharge or discharging liberally), what works best is for patients with certain risk indicators to go through a more intensive discharge process, while the others can pretty much go straight home. That means that whether it is a hospital-wide policy or not, providers may benefit from using different discharge protocols, depending on the patient.
Using iClickCare to coordinate care and encourage efficient medical collaboration may be one of the most effective ways to decrease length of stay. Give it a try for free by clicking on the button below and let us know how it worked: