Home From The Editor Rethinking the need for speed

Rethinking the need for speed

September 2014

Published in the September 2014 issue of Today’s Hospitalist

When it comes to moving patients off the wards, hospitalists know that speed is important. Two articles in this month’s issue get at that truism, but with a twist.

When you need to transfer a patient to another hospital, speed is critical. Historically, however, hospitals on the receiving end haven’t always shared that same sense of urgency. That creates tension and mistrust between the physicians on either side of the transfer, further complicating the process.

As our cover story explains, large hospitals are starting to change their attitudes about transfer patients. Teaching hospitals and large community hospitals alike are streamlining their transfer processes to make sure they can receive patients more quickly and efficiently.

Doing better with transfer patients is not only good business; it’s good medicine for patients. It also promises to make life a lot easier for physicians on both ends of the process.

As for discharging patients, speed is a good thing too “up to a point. The creation of readmission penalties has hospitals searching for ways to make sure that patients aren’t being discharged too quickly and then bouncing back.

In his column, David Frenz, MD, suggests a simpler approach: Slow down discharge for certain patients and keep them an extra day or two. Sure, he argues, keeping heart failure patients an extra day might reduce your hospital’s profit margin on that one case. But if you can prevent patients from bouncing back, your hospital will avoid costly readmission penalties and may do better financially.

Dr. Frenz provides detailed numbers to make the case for keeping some patients a little longer. His analysis may make you think twice the next time you are rushing to discharge a complicated patient.

edoyleEdward Doyle
Editor & Publisher
edoyle@todayshospitalist.com