The hospital discharge process is ripe with opportunities for improvement. Often there is a lot of hurry and wait while the discharge plan is arranged and approved. Simultaneously, in a tight timeline of a few hours the nurse tries to get massive amounts of instructions communicated, while patients are most likely tired, in pain, and only thinking about going home. In this situation, retention and understanding levels are low.

When the discharge process is not optimized, the following pains result:

Lost Revenue:
It takes, on average, 102 minutes to be discharged, and the lengthy discharge process costs U.S. hospitals more than $3.189 billion a year in lost revenue.2

Readmission Risks: Nearly 20 percent of Medicare patients were readmitted within 30 days of discharge and 34 percent within 60 days. Unplanned re-hospitalizations cost Medicare $17.4 billion in 2004.3

Patients who have a clear understanding of their after-hospital care instructions are 30 percent less likely to be readmitted or visit the ER than patients who lack this information.4

The Solution: Pro-Active Discharge Planning and Reinforced Discharge Instructions

Medicare defines discharge planning as, “a process that involves determining the appropriate post-hospital discharge destination for a patient; identifying what the patient requires for a smooth and safe transition from the hospital to his/her discharge destination; and beginning the process of meeting the patient’s identified post-discharge needs.”1

Using pro-active discharge planning, hospitals have started educating and setting expectations for the elective patient before they even step through the hospital doors. Important discharge planning information can be collected and delivered to care coordinators who create a plan and address potential issues in advance of the surgery day. Imagine how much more patients can be engaged in their discharge decisions when they are not groggy from pain meds and the impact of surgery.

Additionally, post-surgery discharge instructions should be available to the patient in an easily accessible, on-demand and interactive format.

When both opportunities are addressed, benefits are realized in the following areas:

  • Shorter Average Length of Stay
  • Improved Patient Experience
  • Increased Compliance
  • Reduced Re-admissions

Implementing a Guided CarePath for Pro-Active Discharge Planning and Reinforced Discharge Instructions

Watch this 1-minute video to learn how a Guided CarePath can help you implement pro-active discharge planning and reinforce discharge instructions to streamline and compact the in-hospital discharge process for elective surgeries:

Download or print a PDF copy of this information:

Discharge Planning References:

  1. State Operations Manual (SOM), Hospital Appendix A - Interpretive Guidelines for 42 CFR 482.43, Discharge Planning
  2. "The Economic and Productivity Impact of IT Security on Healthcare." Ponemon Institute LLC. May 2013
  3. "Rehospitalizations among Patients in the Medicare Fee-for-Service Program." Stephen F. Jencks, M.D., M.P.H., Mark V. Williams, M.D., and Eric A. Coleman, M.D., M.P.H. N Engl J Med 2009; 360:1418-1428
  4. "Preventing Avoidable Readmissions: Improving the Hospital Discharge Process." December 2012. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.