According to a 2021 MedPAC Report to Congress, a mere 54 percent of patients had a clear understanding of their care plan upon leaving the hospital, underscoring the urgent need for improved communication especially when patients are transitioning to care in a post-acute setting. Not only is the plan of care unclear, patients often have limited understanding of the quality of post-acute facilities or services they’re being discharged to. The result: readmissions to hospitals and dissatisfied patients.
A big takeaway from COVID-19 is that hospitals need to leverage technology to improve patient communication, care and processes. In this healthcare landscape, New York City has emerged as a hub for health tech innovation. At the heart of this burgeoning scene is Aidin, a SaaS relationship management platform born and raised in the Big Apple. Since its establishment in 2011, Aidin has been pivotal in addressing key concerns in patient communication and care, especially during transitions from hospitals to post-acute care (PAC).
Reduce hospital readmissions
There are 3.8 million hospital readmissions annually across the U.S., with a 14 percent readmission rate and an average readmission cost of $15,200. Generally, when patient quality of care improves, readmission rates decline. Reducing readmissions benefits both patients and hospitals since it usually means improved patient experience and outcome and lower hospital costs.
Top hospitals nationwide are reducing readmissions through a combination of technology, operational enhancements and communication. By centralizing care partnerships, referrals, records and authorizations, health systems and hospitals enable seamless care transitions and emphasize and reward quality.
Hospital leaders are realizing the power of technology by providing tools that equip staff to handle case management workflows more efficiently, saving up to three hours per staff member per day. From a systemic view, patients more promptly receive more customized quality care, leaving more room to welcome new patients.
Shorten hospital length of stay (LOS)
Hospitals also use length of stay as a metric to gauge patient outcomes and transition of care. According to data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) developed with the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), in 2020, there were approximately 32.6 million reported hospital stays with an average length of stay of 4.9 days. Length of stay has steadily increased since 2001 and now adds up to over $482 billion annually.
Innovators like UCLA Health leverage technology to reduce length of stay. After rolling out relationship management software, they saw an average reduction of one full day in their length of stay, with a 2.2-day reduction for patients requiring inpatient rehabilitation. They also saw cost reduction, reduced readmission rates and improved staff efficiency.
Another issue contributing to increased length of stay includes delays in the process, like with prior authorizations or pre-certs. By streamlining the case management and post-acute pre-cert and authorization workflows, issues like this have become a challenge of the past.
Aidin sees its partnerships working with hospital groups and organizations to help them reduce length of stay and reduce costs as more important than ever with various budget-related issues coming together.
Make it easier for patients to choose high-quality providers
While some statistics, like readmission rates, improved from 2019 to 2021, the risk-adjusted hospital mortality rate remained higher than in 2019, and most patient experience measures declined, according to a March 2023 MedPAC Report to Congress. Often, when discharging patients, the provider quality impacts both the likelihood of being readmitted and the overall patient experience they see after being discharged.
Poor matches often increase readmission rates, decrease patient satisfaction, and increase hospital costs because of more readmissions. Usually, patients will select the closest option to them when selecting a provider because they don’t commonly get any additional criteria to make a selection.
Mentioned previously is the nationwide data that shows that a shockingly low number of patients are selecting the top-quality provider: only 14.7 percent of patients choose the best-skilled nursing facility (SNF), and even fewer (5.5 percent) choose the best home health agency (HHA).
However, leading hospital groups like Edward-Elmhurst Health (EEH) in Illinois are leveraging technology to improve patient transfers to PAC facilities and provide more patient options. In addition to patient satisfaction improvements, the EEH staff also reported streamlined workflow efficiency due to their ability to create provider lists that were both clinically appropriate for each patient and had the capability to admit them with Aidin.
Data shows that organizations leveraging Aidin see an average of 85 percent of patients choose the top-quality provider. This quality increase is possible because the platform weaves high quality throughout the transition of care process. When an open marketplace is provided, more options are available, and hospitals can streamline communications and management with the ability to manage responses and send referrals to providers efficiently.
Aidin’s work with hospital leaders around the country shines a light on the ongoing improvements that continue to be necessary to improve patient outcomes while also reducing costs for organizations often challenged with budget cuts. These three areas—length of stay, readmissions, and quality provider selection—continually improve when leveraging technology to enhance case management workflows and better connect those workflows to the hospital’s financial outcomes and other key metrics.
While much work remains and the landscape remains challenging, it’s inspiring to see the work hospital groups, large and small, are doing to address quality issues, inefficiencies, and rising costs. Technology, data, and communication are essential to more successful outcomes.
Akanksha Karwar, MPH, is the Chief operating officer of Aidin, a SAAS relationship management platform that hospital groups nationwide use to streamline case management workflows. Before joining Aidin, Akanksha worked in healthcare consulting at Huron Consulting Group and General Electric (GE), where she spent six years working with hospitals nationwide on health technology, case management, and supply chain improvement. She is a proud Rutgers and Dartmouth alumna who lives in West New York, NJ.