Healthcare News & Insights

More hospitals creating ‘post-discharge’ spaces

Because patient outcomes are commonly tied to reimbursement, hospitals have placed more effort into making sure that care transitions are appropriate for patients. While some have bolstered their discharge planning procedures, others have used different approaches to make sure patients are more likely to have a smooth recovery. 

ThinkstockPhotos-509828885One such strategy is creating specific “post-discharge spaces,” on hospital grounds or offsite, designed for patients who are either leaving the hospital or were recently discharged.

An article from Patient Safety & Quality Healthcare (PSQH) goes into detail about how hospitals are using post-discharge spaces to improve care.

Care transitions

University Health System, based in Texas, recently opened a Transitional Care Center in its trauma tower.

The center serves as a waiting area for patients who have been discharged, but aren’t able to leave the facility just yet. Patients who’ve just been admitted to the hospital and are waiting for a bed can also wait in the center.

While waiting in the Transitional Care Center, patients are able to talk to staff about their new medications and upcoming follow-up doctors’ appointments.

Patients can also have their prescriptions filled by the hospital pharmacy, ask pharmacists questions via videoconferencing and wait in the center to pick medications up before leaving, which has increased medication adherence in patients post-discharge.

In addition, staff review patients’ discharge summaries and let them know about health-related services they can access on their own, including the hospital’s Nurse Link service and their own medical records. Patients are also able to ask any questions they have about their care and treatment so they can clear up any misunderstandings before they leave.

So far, patients have reported that the transition center has been beneficial. The extra attention from staff helps them better understand the steps they must take to recover from their illnesses.

Improved follow-ups

Another way of approaching post-discharge spaces focuses specifically on the follow-up care patients need after they leave the hospital.

Reason: Most patients aren’t making the required contact with their primary care physicians shortly after discharge.

Some hospitals are attempting to make receiving follow-up care easier for patients by creating special post-discharge clinics. These clinics are ideal for patients who don’t already have a primary care provider, or who can’t get an appointment with their regular doctor in a reasonable time period after discharge.

At these clinics, doctors review the patient’s recovery progress, discuss test results and provide refills for prescriptions. They also answer patients’ questions about their health and give them additional education about home treatments if necessary.

Facilities that have some sort of post-discharge clinic in place include Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and San Francisco General Hospital (which hosts the Bridge Clinic). The clinics have removed some barriers patients have reported with receiving follow-up care.

Whether it’s a waiting room or an entirely offsite clinic or center, making space for transitional care can be beneficial. Dedicating an area in your facility to helping patients navigate their discharge transitions may be just the strategy your hospital needs to help patients avoid complications once they’ve left the hospital.

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