What are the Top Barriers to Patient Progression?

If you’re struggling with patient flow, barriers to patient progression could be the culprit.

By Barbara Anzilotti, MSN


It only takes one patient progression barrier to interrupt flow across your entire hospital. Whether it be delayed testing results, pending consultations, or pre-certification to lower levels of care, your patients likely experience barriers in multiple areas. But how do you resolve these barriers before they impact timely patient progression? The first step in the process is making sure all these barriers are identified.

Some of the most common barriers to patient progression include medical/progression delays, medications/iv meds, physician delays, diagnostics/procedures, and discharge barriers.

Above, you can see some of the most commonly reported categories of patient progression barriers. Do you know what the main barrier categories are in your organization?

Let’s take a deeper look. How do these barriers impact the progression of patients? Below we can see the average amount of time per patient that each category of barrier delays patient progression. You can also see examples of some of the most common barriers in each category.


Medical delays and NPO account for major delays with medical/progression.
 

Average Impact Per Patient

Average impact per patient amounts to 48 hours and 30 minutes, or 2 days

Medications/IV Meds include delays like IV to PO Conversion, Heparin GTT, and IV Antibiotics.
 

Average Impact Per Patient

Average impact per patient amounts to 50 hours and 36 minutes, or 2.1 days

Physician delays include consult delays, procedure delays, and results delays.
 

Average Impact Per Patient

Average impact per patient amounts to 34 hours and 24 minutes, or 1.4 days.

Diagnostic/Procedure delays include diagnostic results pending, therapy evalutaion, labs/cultures pending, and diagnostic scheduling delays.
 

Average Impact Per Patient

Average impact per patient for diagnostic/procedures delays amounts to 42 hours and 12 minutes, or 1.8 days.

Common discharge delays include pre-cert to lower levels of care, placement delays, foley, and medically not ready.
 

Average Impact Per Patient

Average impact per patient for discharge delays amounts to 48 hours and 6 minutes, or 2 days.

Other common delays include patient/family/caregiver delays and decision delays.
 

Average Impact Per Patient

The average impact per patient for other delays comes out to 59 hours and 42 minutes, or 2.5 days.

Now you understand the impact of the most common barriers. So, how do you resolve them before they impact timely patient progression?

There will always be barriers to patient care that are unpredictable or unavoidable, but there are steps your organization can take to minimize the risk of delayed patient care and discharge.

Are progression barriers delaying patient flow in your organization? If so, it’s time to start making patient progression a key part of your patient flow and throughput strategy.