5 Ways to Leverage Technology for Hospital Success in Value-Based Care

1. Reduce emergency department use with digital health technology

In the United States, 1 in 5 people visit the emergency room at least once a year, but two-thirds of these visits are preventable. ERs are an expensive place to receive non-emergency care, and knowing when to intervene before the patient is admitted is crucial to reducing expenses. Limiting the number of unnecessary ER admissions could save the United States $32 billion a year.

To reduce costs, care can often be provided in a less expensive setting. By leveraging the right technology, hospitals gain better visibility when a patient arrives at the ER, ensuring the appropriate response to assess whether the patient can be treated at a primary care facility or even at home. The technology also loops through primary care providers and post-acute care providers regarding shared patients, allowing them to “quarter” patient care along the continuum.

2. Health technology can reduce hospital admissions

The average hospital observation or hospital stay costs between $8,000 and $23,000, respectively.

Hospitals should demand technology that addresses the social determinants of patient health to better manage the patient before they even arrive at the hospital. Technology can help connect patients with local home and community organizations to better meet their needs, such as food, housing, addiction and mental health help, and reduce the patient dependence on hospitals and emergency services.

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If a patient has already been admitted to the hospital, providers can also take steps to minimize the length of stay. In many cases, the potential need for post-acute care is identified on admission. Patients, families, and case managers are then tasked with finding a high-quality post-acute care provider who is geographically convenient, has available beds, accepts their insurance, offers desired amenities, and meets specific clinical needs.

When using technology to educate patients about available post-acute care providers, information is effectively delivered at the bedside to minimize avoidable discharge delays and reduce length of stay in acute care and readmissions.

3. Identify the next appropriate care site after discharge

According to Penn Medicine researchers, “nearly 90 percent of Medicare patients discharged for post-acute care receive that care in a skilled nursing facility or at home.” But post-acute care costs vary widely between the two.

Referral patterns to hospitals also vary considerably. While some health systems refer patients more frequently to home care, others primarily refer patients to NFS, even when these patients can be treated at home.

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Discussions regarding a patient’s post-acute care should be ongoing during a patient’s hospital stay, and technology can help support care decision-making by considering quality and similar patient results. This technology helps providers make the most appropriate decisions for their patients while mitigating the risk of readmission and reducing potential post-acute care expenses.

Getting the patient discharged correctly means identifying the next appropriate site of care after discharge and arranging the appropriate services in a timely manner to help ensure the successful recovery of patients when they return home. A smooth transition of care leads to better clinical outcomes; outcomes include fewer adverse events after discharge, reduced readmission rates, and use of appropriate services that directly reduce the cost of care.

4. Optimize length of stay in skilled nursing facilities

It is incumbent on providers to optimize a patient’s length of stay in an SNF, because SNF represents a significant portion of Medicare’s fee-for-service costs.

Using the appropriate technology, hospitals leverage real-time length-of-stay data and benchmarks to identify a patient’s optimal post-acute length of stay and work with the SNF to discharge the patient on time. By optimizing post-acute length of stay, hospitals can ensure a patient’s safe and successful discharge into the community.

5. Reduce hospital readmissions through the implementation of technology

Diverting to emergency departments, preventing unnecessary admissions, identifying the next appropriate level of care, and optimizing the length of stay for the SNF are all critical to reducing hospital readmissions. Potentially avoidable readmissions cost Medicare $17 billion a year.

Hospitals are under increasing pressure to reduce readmissions in order to contain costs and succeed under value-based initiatives such as CMS’s Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP), which penalizes hospitals with rates relatively higher Medicare readmissions.

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The transition from hospital to a post-acute care facility is one of the most difficult times in the patient journey: nearly 23% of patients with NFS are readmitted to hospital within 30 days. Patients discharged from post-acute care often turn to the ED due to inefficiencies earlier in the care transition process, such as a mismatch between patient needs and post-acute care facility resources.

Readmission is an adverse effect for both patient and provider, but there are multiple opportunities to positively impact hospital readmissions throughout the patient journey. To drive real change, providers need technology that brings all stakeholders together on a single platform where they can place patients with high-quality providers, monitor high-risk cohorts, gain visibility into the start of a home care episode and identify patients based on value. early to follow the episode.

Breaking down health technology silos

Technology is a key driver for achieving true value-based care. It has the power to break down silos, connect provider workflows, increase efficiency, and share insights across the patient journey. Providers benefit from increased communication, increased transparency, and better alignment on key metrics with other continuum stakeholders, all of which help transform healthcare delivery and reward stakeholders in depending on the results.