Decreasing the Patient Length of Stay

Busy Hospitals Increase Patient Flow Card

Decreasing Patient Wait Times and Length of Stay Can Lower Risk of Hospital-Acquired Conditions

Patient length of stay (LOS) is one of the biggest issues facing hospitals today. The longer a patient stays in the hospital, the greater the risk they will develop a healthcare-acquired infection (HAI) that they can become vulnerable to. In addition, hospitals face lower patient capacities and increased costs.

Hospitals benefit from a shorter LOS. They do not have to cover the expense of treating an HAI and they free up beds for new patients. While it sounds relatively simple to reduce LOS time, in reality, this issue is fraught with obstacles. Here's a look at how hospitals can work toward decreasing LOS, saving money in the process by using available technology to become more efficient.

The Importance of Length of Stay in Hospitals

The average length of stay (ALOS) in a hospital is used to gauge the efficiency of a healthcare facility. Clearly, a lower ALOS is better for patients, who decrease their risk of developing conditions beyond what they entered the hospital to treat. Lower ALOS also helps hospitals in other ways:

  • High LOS has been tied to higher mortality rates.
  • Freeing up beds allows hospitals to treat more patients.
  • Inflation has led to higher costs for hospitals, which are searching for new ways to increase their bottom lines.

Hospital Length of Stay Benchmarks

The national average for a hospital stay was 5.5 days, as recorded by a 2018 study. This noted an increase of about a day since the last time a similar study was completed in 2012. The United States likely would have maintained a similar trajectory until the present were it not for COVID-19.

COVID made its mark on LOS, just as it did with every other part of the medical industry. From 2019-2022, hospitals saw a 19% increase in ALOS across all sectors. Furthermore, there has been a 24% increase in hospital discharges to secondary care facilities, with the highest percentage of patients leaving hospitals for mental healthcare facilities and skilled nursing facilities.

With costs averaging anywhere between $3,000 and $10,000 a day at a hospital, even a short stay can leave patients on the hook for much more than they can afford. When both hospitals and their patients feel the financial strain of a long hospital stay, patients are less likely to come in and receive the care they need and deserve. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that hospitals continue to evolve and develop new solutions to bring down and manage ALOS.

Reducing Length of Stays in Hospitals

Hospitals can reap many benefits of decreasing patient length of stay in hospitals. The most efficient hospital will also be the most effective hospital. Embrace technology to improve your LOS by streamlining clinical workflow throughout your facility. For example:

  • Asset management: Patients should never have to wait while staff search for equipment, look for their room or attempt to access the right spaces. Automate PAR-level management to ensure equipment distribution is optimized and that patient and staff locations are cataloged. Any medical situation can become life-threatening in a moment, and when there's no time to waste, our asset management tools will ensure your staff can find their equipment and get where they need to be faster.
  • Nurse call automation: Enhance staff efficiency by automating call cancellations, monitoring time stamp staff presence and facilitating staff rounding (proven to reduce number of patient falls). Some hospitals have seen upward of a 40% increase in their response time with our battery-powered devices, ensuring patients get the care they need faster. When patients receive immediate, consistent care, they heal faster and can be discharged sooner.
  • Hand hygiene compliance: Reduce HAIs by increasing hand washing compliance to keep patients safe. CenTrak badges are smart — smart enough to register when an employee is near a washing station and monitor whether they use the proper washing protocol as dictated by their facility. You have enough to think about without trying to watch your staff's every movement. Let CenTrak technology serve as their reminder for following proper protocol.
  • Patient workflow: Automatically record and analyze operational data and document patient milestones. Automating records allows your patients to check in on their own, letting your staff spend more time monitoring and treating their patients. More focused care results in faster advancements in healing and less chance of making errors.
  • Environment management: Keeping your patients comfortable facilitates healing, allowing their bodies to focus on repairing what's wrong instead of self-regulating. Our environmental monitoring tools track temperature, room pressure, sanitation and medication safety parameters.

Improving the Patient Discharge Process

CenTrak also has a patient tracking system that can help shorten the patient discharge process and decrease the wait time for other patients in need of a room so they can receive the appropriate care.

It can take hours between when a hospital discharges a patient and when the computer system notes their bed has become open. In that time, many people may be awaiting care, which puts off treatment and decreases patient satisfaction. Our Real-Time Location System for hospitals can tackle this problem. By tracking patients' locations in real time and automating discharge notifications, it eliminates the gap between when a patient leaves the hospital and when they exit the system.

How Does Our Real-Time Locating System Work?

Each patient is equipped with a small RTLS-enabled patient tags attached to their hospital-issued ID bracelet. When the patient is discharged, they place their band into a CenTrak designated Dropbox. The RTLS-technology captures the patient ID and automatically discharges the patient from the system. An alert is then immediately generated to notify housekeeping staff that the room is ready for cleaning. This enhanced workflow improves room turnover time, and reduces patient wait times (while increasing patient throughput).

Contact CenTrak today for a free demo of our RTLS solutions today.

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