Home Discharges A look at discharge planning strategies

A look at discharge planning strategies

May 2012

Published in the May 2012 issue of Today’s Hospitalist

NO ONE KNOWS BETTER than hospitalists the importance of discharging patients from the hospital “and the problems that can occur during the discharge process. So what strategies are hospitalists using to make sure that discharges go smoothly? According to the 2011 Today’s Hospitalist Compensation & Career Survey, having a discharge planner is the most popular strategy, but it’s far from the only one. Here’s a look at the data.

Discharge planners
Discharge planners are by far the most popular strategy that groups use to streamline discharges, but they’re used by only about half (53%) of all programs. Hospitalists working for multispecialty/primary care groups are most likely to use a discharge planner, with almost two-thirds (61%) reporting that they do so.

In general, groups with higher patient volumes are also more likely to use discharge planners. At groups where hospitalists see 10 or fewer patients per shift, only 38% use discharge planners. At groups where hospitalists see 16 or more patients per shift, by comparison, 55% utilize a discharge planner.

Post-discharge calls
While national hospitalist management companies are slightly less likely to use a discharge planner (44%) than other types of groups, they’re much more likely to have someone making post-discharge calls (40%) on behalf of their patients. (On average, 29% of hospitalist groups use post-discharge calls.) Multispecialty/primary groups are also slightly more likely to use post-discharge calls (34%) than other types of groups.

Trends by geography
Look at the data by geography, and you’ll find that discharge planners are most popular in the Pacific where they are used by 64% of groups, and least popular in the Northeast, where 45% of groups use them. Hospitalists in the Pacific region also lead the way in using dedicated case managers, with 47% of groups in that region employing that strategy.

Post-discharge calls, on the other hand, are most popular in the Midwest, where 36% of groups use them. And hospitalist groups in the Northeast are more likely to use administrative assistants to take care of discharge planning (33%) than hospitalist programs in other parts of the country.