5 lessons from hospitals' discharge tools

Hospitals can learn several lessons from the discharge planning process, according to a new case study from the American Hospital Association (AHA).

The AHA case study incorporated five healthcare organizations, all of which shared insight on their tools for the discharge and patient assessment process with the association. The discussion led to numerous lessons for other hospitals and policymakers, including:

  • Incorporate patients' needs: After discharge, hospitals must minimize care transitions by determining which care settings best suit individual patients' needs.
  • Tools for discharge planning must not overwhelm available resources: It is not sustainable for hospitals to continually add to their own discharge reporting burden, according to the report. "At some point," it states, "there must be a reconciliation of reporting activities to remove redundancies and focus on the most valuable data."
  • Discharge planning tools should allow clinicians to prioritize health during a hospital stay: Focusing on patients' health before their discharge process begins can speed their transition to a post-acute care or home setting, and can pre-emptively cut the necessary amount of post-acute care, according to the case study.
  • Physicians and other clinicians must be involved in the planning process: All of the tools involved in the case study incorporated advice from the clinicians involved in treatment of the patients, recognizing that the tools in a vacuum do not provide enough guidance. However, non-clinical factors, such as geographic proximity and the availability of family resources, must be considered later in the discharge process, according to the report.
  • Several discharge tool designs can be used to standardize data: It is too early to commit to predictive over observational tool structures or vice versa, according to the report, and the tools used were a mix of the two.

Improving the discharge summary process could also significantly reduce readmissions, FierceHealthcare previously reported, while some providers have cut readmissions by monitoring patient progress after they have returned home.  

To learn more:
- read the report (.pdf)