By Luis Castillo, president and CEO of Ensocare
Historically, hospital discharge has not been overly efficient. Up to this point, staff have been buried in manual processes, causing them to lose precious time. For example, numerous phone calls and back-and-forth communications between hospitals and post-acute providers swallow critical minutes as staff in both organizations race to determine the best fit for a patient and whether the post-acute facility is available and capable of receiving the individual.
When staff get bogged down with these kinds of clerical tasks, it can result in inefficient care transitions. Not only does this delay the patient’s departure from the hospital, it can slow the start of treatment at the receiving facility. In today’s era of value-based care, where organizations are striving to improve quality, reduce costs and promote patient satisfaction, no facility can afford to have poor care transitions.
Going Mobile Can Save Time
The good news is that with the advent of mobile solutions—especially those applications designed to support care coordination—hospitals and post-acute facilities can streamline post-acute placement, eliminating time-consuming manual work for both the hospital and post-acute provider. For example, with this technology, care coordinators at post-acute facilities are able to receive immediate notification on their phones or tablets when a possible patient is ready for discharge. With a few swipes, care coordinators can get an informative overview of a patient’s needs so they can determine whether the person would be a good fit for their organization. Post-acute staff can then rapidly respond to the hospital via the app, indicating their organizations’ availability. This not only eliminates duplicative administration work for the hospital, but it allows the care coordinator to interact with the requesting facility while on the go. So, even if post-acute staff are away from their desks, they can still receive and respond to information about potential patients. As there is often limited staff in a post-acute facility, and they may wear multiple hats, having the ability to review and accept patients while away from their desk is a key time saver, improving the efficiency of patient intake and reducing the costs of the process.
Once a patient commits to the post-acute organization for his or her next level of care, the post-acute entity can further save time by leveraging mobile applications to quickly exchange information with the hospital about the patient. Whereas it used to be that receiving entities may not get details about individuals until they arrived onsite with their medical records sitting on their laps, a mobile solution can help the post-acute provider receive crucial information faster, even before the patient shows up. The hospital can send essential elements of the patient’s medical record via the secure app, so the receiving organization’s staff does not lose critical time sifting through a large and unwieldy medical record. This allows the coordinator to begin preparing for the patient’s arrival as soon as possible. Medication and treatment orders can be started so the post-acute organization is ready to begin providing care immediately after the patient enters the facility.
Mobile apps also ensure faster communication after the patient has settled in at the post-acute facility. Because hospitals are now being held responsible for their patients’ care for 90 days post-discharge, many of these organizations are interested in keeping tabs on patients after they leave the acute setting. By embracing a mobile solution, post-acute providers can easily and rapidly stay in touch with the hospital about the patients’ progress without having to spend time trading phone calls—once again saving precious minutes that can be used elsewhere, such as in direct patient care.
Also, if there are certain warning signs that a readmission might be necessary, the post-acute provider can work with the hospital to identify ways to intervene and avoid the trip back to the acute organization.
Keeping time leads to better value
As hospitals and health systems pursue value-based partnerships, they are seeking to work with post-acute providers in risk-based arrangements. An ideal partner is one that is responsive, collaborative and focused on improving quality and efficiency while reducing costs. If a post-acute provider can demonstrate that it can rapidly respond to placement requests, transition patients smoothly into the new setting and communicate effectively about the patient’s condition, it will be more attractive to hospitals looking for a partner. Ultimately, this can cultivate greater success in value-based arrangements.