With the way the modern healthcare system is designed in the wake of a legislative overhaul of the entire medical field, it is vital for hospitals to start tracking their most important metrics. In fact, with the technology to do so efficiently, there is almost no reason not to. Aside from the fact that it can reveal information that is crucial to improving patient care, hospital metrics can also heavily impact reimbursement rates for physician groups and hospital-employed doctors alike. With the two C’s, “care” and “compensation” in mind, what are a few of the hospital metrics that hospitals and physician groups should start tracking immediately?
The Average Patient Length of Stay
For those who may not know, the average length of stay is the average time that a patient stays in the hospital for a visit. It starts the moment the patient is admitted and ends the moment the patient has been discharged. Depending on the location in the hospital, this stay could be measured in anything from hours to months. It may be helpful for the hospital to divide their average length of stay out by department because a stay on the regular floor is going to be shorter than a stay in the ICU. This metric is important because it can be used to compare the efficiency of the hospital departments against each other and how the hospital functions when compared to other hospitals.
The Average Time to Service
This metric is used to measure how long it takes for a patient to receive care from either a nurse or a doctor once they arrive at the hospital. This is most useful in the emergency room, where patients can either be seen immediately or wind up waiting hours on end to see a provider. Of course, it can be applied to almost every department throughout the hospital. This metric is important because patients deserve to be seen as quickly as possible and relates closely to patient satisfaction scores.
Sometimes grouped together with morbidity and mortality, almost every hospital has a category called sentinel events. Simply put, a sentinel event is an event that results in a patient death or significant morbidity event that was unexpected. Every hospital should not only track the number of sentinel events but also hold a regular morbidity and mortality conference to discuss how these events happened and how to prevent them in the future. Tracking these events is crucial because hospitals should look for trends in the type and location of their sentinel events to efficiently reduce their number.
Patient Readmission Rate
This metric tracks the number of patients who are admitted to the hospital after being discharged. While this doesn’t track every patient, it does track patients who are considered “bounce-backs,” or patients who return to the hospital within a short period, typically hours to days, of being discharged. This metric is vital because it shows how well the physicians are determining who is ready for discharge and who should remain in the hospital for more care. In addition, many insurance providers will penalize hospitals who have “bounce-back” patients, directly impacting the hospital’s bottom line. Many hospitals will also penalize providers who have “bounce-back” patients. Every hospital and physician group should be tracking this metric.
This is only a small sample of the available metrics and following these metrics is important because it provides an objective view of the performance of the hospital as a whole and can be used to identify efficient ways to improve performance both in terms of patient care and for revenue generation. Advanced analytics is the future of healthcare and knowledge of metrics will be an essential part of remaining competitive in the industry.