How an Integrated Inpatient Discharge Process Improves Patient Experience

mature female patient on wheelchair listens to doctor perscripti

Getting patients prepared to leave your hospital is crucial to patient safety and experience. A good discharge process requires proper planning and coordination. While I’ve written extensively about the importance of the emergency department discharge process, inpatient discharge is just as critical and deserves equal attention from hospital leaders. Patients of all kinds and hospitals will reap the rewards of a discharge process done well.

Rewards of Revamping Your Inpatient Discharge Process

What exactly are those rewards?

1. It improves inpatient functional capacity. When patients check out in timely manner, more beds become available for new patients. That can lead to an increase in admissions and inpatient revenue.

2. It has a positive impact on EDs. The inpatient discharge process not only affects those patients receiving inpatient care but also impacts patients in the emergency department. Moving those patients along who need an inpatient bed can increase the emergency department’s functional capacity.

It can reduce the number of emergency department admissions being held in the ED awaiting an available inpatient bed. This improvement can result in higher patient satisfaction scores, and that can positively affect revenue.

When an integrated and multidisciplinary inpatient discharge process — one that takes into account the inpatient ward and ED’s needs — is in place and optimized, patients admitted to the hospital from the ED will experience a faster transition to inpatient care.

3. It improves the quality of care patients receive across your hospital departments. Those needing inpatient care can get it sooner. ED staff can devote their time to patients requiring active emergency treatment. It also helps maintain a culture centered around patient safety. Patients are being cared for by the right professionals in the right setting.

4. It can help reduce avoidable hospital days. When you look at discharge processes for inpatients and ED patients in an integrated way, you can find delays that happen across the continuum of care.

Delays can come from a number of areas:

  • physicians
  • case management or discharge planners
  • patients and family
  • hospital staff
  • outside transportation services
  • healthcare settings such as skilled nursing facilities

That’s why improving both the inpatient and emergency department discharge processes is a highly effective tactic to reduce unnecessary days of inpatient care. By successfully decreasing avoidable hospital days, they increase the likelihood of significant cost savings.

Next week, I’ll go over how you can improve your inpatient discharge process so you can reap all of these benefits. In the meantime, if you’d like a complimentary phone consultation to discuss your inpatient discharge process, drop me a line.



Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: IDEAL Discharge Planning Overview, Process, and Checklist

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: Preventing Avoidable Readmissions