A 2016 study of legal claims against hospitalists cited “the speed that diagnostic studies are ordered and performed” as one of the major factors leading to delayed diagnoses to the detriment of the patient’s health.
Not all health systems have realized significant gains in optimizing their length of stay (LOS). Some wonder if a small decrease is worth the effort. Others are concerned reducing their LOS will lead to a higher readmission rate and associated penalties. But experience shows that the benefits of managing LOS are compelling, and the reduction of LOS does not necessarily correlate with an increase in readmissions. Readmissions occur when patients are discharged too early or without a plan supporting their transition from the inpatient setting.
What are the benefits? Reducing LOS drives a significantly positive impact on a health system’s financial performance. For example, if a 300-bed hospital with an average LOS of 4.5 days was able to reduce their LOS to 4.2 days they could treat over 1,700 more patients each year. This would mean millions of dollars in additional income from the same fixed capacity.
We think a lot about milestones in healthcare. The major milestones now are the shift from volume- to value-based care and the evolution to community health management. These healthcare milestones change everything about the way hospitals operate, provide care and succeed financially. So how do hospitals thrive in this evolution?