The Significance of Length of Stay

Austin Winberg |
June 13, 2019

It is a common question that nearly every admitted patient has, “when do I get to leave?” The patient’s length of stay is important to not only the patient, but also to their family members and their care team. Creating an environment where the patient has awareness to their anticipated length of stay has a positive return on that patient’s experience, preparedness and outcomes as well as hospital efficiency.

Patient Experience

Imagine being a patient not knowing how long you will be in the hospital or only being given the same general answer each time you ask. Or imagine being told you will need to be in the hospital longer when the anticipated date arrives. Patients in these situations rightfully feel anxious and frustrated with the flow of information. So understandably, the more patients are involved with and aware of their anticipated Length of Stay, the better they will report their experience and their care team’s ability to communicate.

Patient Preparedness and Outcomes

Looking beyond the returns of the patient’s experience by communicating length of stay, communicating and improving the patient length of stay has shown to improve patient preparedness. Having awareness into their role with the discharge process, and the anticipated amount of time they must complete these activities, our evidence has shown that patients respond with improved activation and follow through when they are more aware and reminded of these responsibilities through the care process. Patients that complete their discharge activities, including education, have shown to have reduced length of stays and improved discharge times. Shortened length of stays have shown evidence to being positively correlated with improved outcomes.

Hospital Operations

Not only does improving the length of stay show a positive correlation with patient outcomes, but improved length of stay also improves the efficiency of hospital operations. By better preparing the patient for discharge, efficiencies are then gained by improving the time between the decision of the date and time of discharge, when the order is placed, when the patient leaves the room, and preparing the bed for the next patient.1 Improving this process means that care team members are not diverting their attention away from admitted patients in order to turn a room around, and the hospital can reduce the rate of patients in wait. Improving this process may also have financial returns to the hospital by efficiencies gained and through a reduction of avoidable days.

Interactive solutions can assist in this process by engaging patients early in the care process and better preparing them for their role with discharge preparedness, so they are able to discharge when the discharge time has been determined.

Learn more about SONIFI Health’s interactive solutions and our impact on Length of Stay here.

 
References

1. Khalifa, M. (2017). Reducing length of stay by enhancing patients' discharge: a practical approach to improve hospital efficiency. In J. Mantas, A. Hasman, P. Gallos, & M. S. Househ (Eds.), Informatics empowers healthcare transformation (Vol. 238, pp. 157-160). (Studies in Health Technology and Informatics; Vol. 238). Amsterdam: IOS Press. https://doi.org/10.3233/978-1-61499-781-8-157

Author: Austin Winberg

Austin Winberg serves as SONIFI Health’s Director of Clinical Outcomes. Austin is responsible for health outcomes research and ROI studies with SONIFI Health customers. Austin has been with SONIFI Health for 7 years.