How technology can streamline discharge process

The discharge process for patients from a hospital is not an easy one, and if done wrong could also lead to costly readmissions--but the use of technology could make the transition much smoother, according to David Lee Scher, M.D., director at DLS Healthcare Consulting LLC.

Better success in this area could be achieved by combining administrative and clinical predicative models, Scher writes at his blog "The Digital Health Corner." He also says that "better analytics programs applied real-time in the [electronic health record] will facilitate integration of these perspectives."

Some of the other ways technology can be used to help with the discharge process, according to Scher, include:

  • Equipment requirements: Using analytics from the EHR, a care coordinator can create a preliminary checklist of the equipment a patient may need. In addition, a digital ordering program would be beneficial to directly connect with a distributor and ensure the product is available, and to check that it's delivered. In addition, patients are embracing digital health tools, and are even looking for providers who offer them, according to a recent survey.
  • At-home care: One way to make sure that the proper visiting nurses are assigned to a patient would be to create a tool where the "physician's orders ... for home nursing are placed and shared with the visiting nurse entity, the patient and the caregiver," Scher says. Then, those nurses should have mobile technologies to help them perform tasks such as record and transmit vital signs and to help them to send messages digitally.
  • Scheduling follow-ups: Mobile technology should be used to make easier, the scheduling of appointments with a provider, as well as serve as patient portals as part of Meaningful Use Stage 2. By including a scheduling system in the portal, patients are more likely to make use of the tool, according to Scher.

According to a case study by the American Hospital Association, organizations must also ensure that tools for discharge planning must not overwhelm available resources and that they allow clinicians to prioritize health during a hospital stay.

In addition, hospitals can reduce readmissions and speed up recovery by promptly delivering a detailed discharge summary to patients' doctors, according to studies from Yale School of Medicine.

To learn more:
- read the blog post