Wasted Time During Hospital Discharge

Monday, March 16th, 2009
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

Have you ever spent half a day at a hospital waiting for a family member to be discharged? If you think it was an inefficient use of your time, consider the financial impact of these delays on hospitals. According to a new study from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business — a featured story in this week’s Healthcare Business Weekly Update — these kinds of communication delays and failures cost hospitals $12 billion a year. That loss equals about 2 percent of hospital revenues nationwide. The researchers prescribe a healthy infusion of IT to help streamline communication among hospital caregivers. In a related story, the CHOICES program at St. Peter’s Hospital pays attention to critical care transitions for elderly patients and their caregivers — such as the hospital discharge — to improve care delivery and reduce wasteful practices.

Early indicators point to a honing-in on healthcare waste by the Obama administration. In its budget brief, the HHS notes that “reducing fraud, waste, and abuse is an important part of restraining spending growth and providing quality healthcare service delivery to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. The budget proposes to dedicate additional resources that will initially be targeted to improving oversight and program integrity activities for the Medicare Prescription Drug Program (Part D), Medicare Advantage, and the Medicaid Program.”

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