How a Referral Management System Helps Decrease Length of Stay

Russ Graney

CEO & Founder, Aidin

The Cost of Longer Hospital Length of Stay

As both a direct and indirect factor in efficient and effective hospital operations, length of stay may be an even more substantial clinical metric today than hospital administrators, management, and executives realize. When ignored, the impact can be considerable.

How quickly and seamlessly a patient is admitted, treated, and discharged can have lasting effects on patient health outcomes, overall satisfaction, and hospital profit.

Read more about the contributing factors and costs of longer hospital length of stay, and how Aidin’s referral management software can help improve efficiency, readmission rates, and profits.

What Factors Impact Hospital Length of Stay?

Several clinical and non-clinical factors lead to increased hospital length of stay. These include:

  • Age
  • Employment status
  • Marital status
  • History of previous admission
  • Patient condition at discharge
  • Medical condition
  • Method of payment
  • Type of treatment

While some of these factors are beyond a hospital’s control, there are some that can be proactively addressed. For example, monitoring and managing patients from admission to discharge can help a hospital improve overall efficiency, and ultimately length of stay.

Poor Communication Between Care Teams Increases Hospital Length of Stay

Poor communication between care teams can significantly increase a patient’s length of stay. In fact, miscommunication is estimated to cause around 80% of medical errors during transition of care. This can happen when patients are transferred with little information from providers, or when new members are brought onto a care team and they need to be briefed on a patient’s history and needs. When these miscommunications occur, it can lead to increased patient length of stay, as well as increased hospital readmission rates.

Why Hospitals Want to Decrease Length of Stay

There are several benefits to reducing length of stay in hospitals, including but not limited to:

Increased Profits for Hospitals

For any hospital, it is important to remember that when hospital stays are reduced, the burden of medical fees is reduced as well. At the same time, an increase in bed turnover rate due to reduced length of stay improves profits.

As recently as 2016, there were around 35.7 million reported hospital stays with a mean length of stay of 4.6 days, a mean cost of $11,700 per stay, and aggregate hospital costs as much as $417.4 billion.

Improved Patient Health Outcomes

The success of patient outcomes can directly impact a hospital’s success. Recent studies show that risk of infection and medication side effects decrease with the reduction of inpatient days while quality of treatment improves.

This information is not new. Studies from the past decade or so have shown that the longer patients stay in a hospital, the less likely they are to have a positive outcome. What has changed is the advancements in referral management software that allow hospitals and health systems to address length of stay challenges and improve the outcomes within their control.

Improved Patient Satisfaction

When patients are kept in the hospital for longer than necessary, it can lead to decreased patient satisfaction. Unnecessary delays in hospital discharge due to preventable factors such as poor communication can be frustrating to both patients and their families, potentially impacting the perception of overall care received. Patients who are discharged at the right time are more likely to feel positively about their care and return to that hospital for future care needs.

Similar to any business, it is crucial to consider how patients’ overall experiences will influence the amount of trust they place in a hospital. Frustrations and negative experiences can decrease trust for all involved in a patient’s care – family, friends, and the patient themselves.

How to Decrease Length of Stay in Hospitals with Referral Management Software

There are several strategies that care teams can use to decrease a patient’s length of stay in a hospital. A referral management software like Aidin helps teams facilitate the following strategies to benefit decreased length of stay, including:

1. Improve Communication Between Care Teams

Miscommunication can lead to errors and inefficiencies that impact patients’ outcomes, satisfaction, and long-term trust. Effective communication often begins with a solid foundation to keep everyone on the same page. For hospitals, improving communication allows for a reduction in long-term issues for all involved.

Secure Record Sharing Allows for Better Communication

Secure record sharing allows for better and improved communication by allowing teams to connect with partners and share records, referrals, and requests via preferred communication methods. Not only is the information readily available, but it can also be shared and received in an ideal and timely manner, allowing hospitals to find the right referral for a patient and discharge them from the hospital quickly.

Instant Messaging Improves Communication Between Care Teams

Efficient and reliable communication is a major factor in Aidin’s HIPAA-compliant messaging system that helps care teams send secure, HIPAA-compliant chats and share patient details with anyone in the care community. This functionality allows for the entire care team to understand what care a patient needs and what has already been done for a patient, leading to reduced length of stay.

2. Create Better Workflows for Patient Care

From admission to discharge, every minute counts. Better workflows allow hospitals to keep high-quality care a priority and discharge patients in an appropriate amount of time.

Patient Checklists Streamline Workflows

A patient referral management system like Aidin allows hospitals to oversee a team’s ongoing tasks, view daily to-do lists per patient, and assign tasks to appropriate staff. Aidin also allows teams to receive real-time alerts when tasks are overdue or incomplete.

Capacity Reports Provide Real-Time Insights

Referral management software can provide real-time capacity reports so hospitals can identify delays in patient discharge, share insights across the team, and find opportunities to create additional capacity.

3. Compile a Network of Providers for Referrals

By allowing providers to compete for referrals in a digital auction environment like Aidin’s Referral Marketplace, hospitals can find and secure the best services for patients. Reduce denials, delays, and length of stay by managing active referrals and monitoring authorization requests all in one streamlined digital location.

Adopt a Referral Management Solution Like Aidin

Aidin’s referral management software helps hospitals meet patient, administrative, and executive needs with technology that makes healthcare more manageable.

More than just a referral management solution, Aidin’s external relationship management system pushes the boundaries of what referral management should look like in order to secure better patient outcomes.

Aidin offers:

  • Reinvented workflows to get the work done quickly and more efficiently
  • Interoperable solutions to be inclusive of all the tools used to communicate
  • Data and insights that shift referral patterns and inform patient choice in real-time

Aidin in Action

UCLA Health, an internationally recognized Academic Medical Center providing quaternary care to over 35,000 inpatients annually, faced several capacity constraints, consistently placing the ER on divert. By adopting Aidin Referral Management Software, they were able to decrease 1 full day in LOS with a 2.2-day reduction for patients requiring inpatient rehab. They also achieved a reduced standard deviation of LOS by 50%, leading to fewer long LOS patients. Additionally, they were able to increase capacity for 600 additional patients per year and reduce costs by nearly $1.7M annually.

See How Aidin Can Reduce Your Hospital Length of Stay

Access our basic plan for free to see how Aidin Referral Management software can decrease hospital LOS and expand patient capacity.