Creating Access Through Effective Discharge Management and Predictive Analytics

Updated on December 16, 2022
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Improving patient access is a key initiative that many health systems are continuously undertaking, but only a few are able to achieve sustainable success. While several factors necessitate long-term success, a proactive discharge management strategy is crucial yet often overlooked. Late discharges have a negative downstream impact, resulting in avoidable excess days, increased length of stay, and throughput bottlenecks. inefficient discharges can limit access to care.  

The current reactive approach to discharge management is not a sustainable solution. For patients to access and receive the highest quality care, health systems must modernize their approach to avoid holdups caused by the discharge process that can then create additional capacity issues throughout the whole system. Proactive discharge planning enabled by intelligent workflow automation can reduce the length of stay, eliminate unnecessary excess days, increase overall capacity, and improve access to care.  

Gaining Insights and Proactive Planning Through Intelligent Automation

Historically, health systems have invested in strategies that reduce the length of stay, but the benefits are often not sustainable due to the manual processes required to support them. Effective discharge planning that focuses on both the discharge day and the patient stay requires timely insights into patient care needs and how they align with discharge goals. Technology can bridge this gap with intelligent automation that gives clinicians time to spend on value-added work. When technology eliminates the unnecessary time spent hunting down relevant information, clinicians spend less time in meetings, huddles, or trying to click through technology to identify the items that create gaps. The result is more time focused on care delivery and a better discharge process. 

There are three key functionalities stakeholders should keep in mind when assessing digital solutions to bolster their discharge management strategy:

Progress tracking and care prioritization.

To deliver better results and improve care coordination, health systems must seek a solution that provides system-wide awareness of the organization’s current and future capacity needs and each patient’s care progression so that information can be part of care prioritization decisions. Leveraging predictive analytics, care teams can obtain real-time insights, proactive alerts, and targeted recommendations that will help identify patients who are not progressing as anticipated while proactively pinpointing patients who should be discharged. Care teams can then make informed decisions and gain insight into which units to prioritize, units that are over capacity and escalating delays, and any potential risks that need attention. 

Orchestrating action on discharges.

Advanced analytics and AI-enabled workflows can help create action through awareness and planning. With a solution that utilizes prescriptive recommendations to deliver real-time information when and where it’s needed, care teams can identify potential barriers to the discharge process before any issues arise. This is key to aligning care team members on the most effective action they must take.  

Removing operational silos.

The ideal system provides a shared communication platform that fosters cross-functional discharge and transfer management. System-wide awareness and transparency are essential to cross-team success on patient discharge day. When supplied with census forecasts, leaders can focus on where to align staff, resources, and capacity management to meet discharge targets. Additionally, a solution that integrates automated alerts when there are barriers to the discharge process ensures that staff remains aware of priorities no matter where they are.

Blending Strategy with Smart Technology

When the right technology is combined with an effective strategy, leaders can proactively plan patient discharges that reduce the length of stay and benefit from advanced insights to optimize their capacity. For example, insights driven by intelligent automation allow for proactive discharge planning and align caregiver priorities with an expected discharge date. Advanced analytics also reduces manual work for care teams by providing insight into patient discharge timelines, unresolved barriers, and discharge locations – all with increased accuracy, providing a solid foundation for proactive discharge planning. In addition, better communication across care teams and departments within the system can align shared goals based on each patient’s needs and create care plans that allow for safe and timely discharge.

Effective discharge processes are the key to unlocking access to inpatient care for the health system. With an AI-based operations management platform that leverages intelligent automation, health systems can successfully unlock patient access by significantly improving patient flow, optimizing capacity and elevating discharge efficiency across the enterprise.