Shorter Stays: When Evidence-Based Medicine Can Decrease Length of Stay

Clinical | Jenna Quinn, RN| March 08, 2018

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Long hospital stays are shown to contribute to rising healthcare costs and potential patient risks, but evidence-based medicine can help. Find out how.

According to an article from Health Catalyst, inpatient hospital stays are estimated to cost the healthcare industry 377.5 billion dollars annually. Longer length of stay has contributed greatly to these rising healthcare costs, and in today’s value-based care environment, the pressure is on to understand how to best provide efficient care while also providing quality care. Although to many, long inpatient stays may seem like the recipe for optimal patient outcomes, research shows that longer length of stay not only raises the cost for the patient and the facility, but more importantly increases the risk that the patient is exposed to unnecessary hospital acquired conditions (HACs).

Inpatient hospital stays are estimated to cost the healthcare industry 377.5 billion dollars annually.

But how do we decrease length of stay?

The last ten years have undoubtedly seen some of the most dynamic and exciting times in all of history when it comes to healthcare technology. From tele-health applications to the use of automated blood pressure machines and the implementation of electronic health records, to name a few, technology advancements have had a positive impact on both the safety and cost of modern healthcare. The thought is that these advancements in healthcare will help keep patients safer and save hospitals money down the road by providing better more efficient care.

And, while all this wonderful technology can certainly help to reduce the length of stay for patients, one of the safest and most efficient ways to decrease a patient’s length of stay is by creating a multidisciplinary communication strategy and utilizing evidence-based medicine to eliminate unnecessary tests and days spent in the hospital.

A great example of this is the change we’ve seen recently regarding orthopedic patients. We used to see patients sitting in bed, immobile several days after surgery. Now, thanks to evidence-based medicine, we know that patients who get out of bed and move day one post-op have a reduced hospital stay and better outcome. According to a DynaMed Plus® topic on total knee arthroplasty, some orthopedic post-op patients are even discharged the same day. By using evidence-based medicine, we can take away the fear that some patients (and clinicians) have about discharging patients too early. By looking at evidence and research, the medical team can determine that the patient can safely go home, reducing length of stay, increasing patient satisfaction, and decreasing the risk that comes with extended hospital stays.

At EBSCO Health, we are committed to helping hospitals improve patient outcomes by promoting evidence-based practice. Explore some of EBSCO Health’s cutting-edge evidence-based clinical decision support tools and skill development resources to see how we can help your institution offer the best patient-centered care possible.  

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Jenna Quinn, RN
Implementation Manager, EBSCO Health

Jenna Quinn is a Registered Nurse living in Atlanta, Georgia. She's currently pursuing her MSN in Informatics and is an Implementation Manager for EBSCO Health.

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