The Impact of Operational Excellence on Readmission
Readmission in the medical world refers to episodes when hospital-discharged patients get readmitted within a specified time interval. The rates of readmission have long been applied in measuring outcomes in the research of health services. It is also used as a benchmark for quality in health systems. For example, there are instances when the quality of care in certain medical institutions offers quality enough to limit readmission rates for patients with acute conditions (Senot & Chandrasekaran, 2015). Quality is attached to operational excellence in these institutions. It incorporates the elements of conventional hospice performance efforts (more so lean transformation). Still, it usually goes beyond such since it places much emphasis on the improvement of care delivery and non-clinical operations (Pruitt, 2018). It applies the processes of change management principles and approaches for the purposes of improving clinical variability. The ultimate goal of operational efficiency is to drive down the costs of care while improving the quality of services at the same time. The operational excellence initiatives have an impact on the reduction of the readmission rates at various acute care facilities.
The initiatives have led to a drop in the rate of readmission in general for hospitals in the United States. The initiatives include penalties for hospitals that have failed to meet the required standard of readmission, and they have pressured medical institutions to put in extra effort regarding patient handling. The fear of penalties that incorporate 25% of the payments made for services in the medical centers is too much to avoid (Senot & Chandrasekaran, 2015). As a result, there are measures, such as the increased purchase of machines and hiring of more qualified staff, to limit errors that cause readmission. Moreover, there is more caution when it comes to caring. The institutions have come up with other initiatives such as follow-ups after discharge. Thus, they do not risk leaving a loophole that might cause penalties for them, as most hospitals are in the business of profit-making.
The initiatives became the genesis for implementing protocols and analytics with the aim of accessing actionable data. The readmission reduction teams identify patients at acute levels who are at a higher risk to not only develop but also track interventions that are critical. The identified patients are taken with the utmost seriousness and allocated special rooms where they are kept and attended to regularly. Specialized interventions identified are used to see that life is out of danger. The problem is addressed by medical professionals with the help of each other. The patient-centered approach plays a key role in such cases and includes multidisciplinary cooperation, and buy-in leadership, as well as the resources for the enhancement of discharge care coordination (Senot & Chandrasekaran, 2015). Any action in healthcare facilities is taken with established protocols to minimize errors. The initiatives have opened the eyes of all stakeholders, especially the customers who are at the center of work. The patients want to see clearly defined procedures for handling them and would not like to buy the services of a facility with high readmission rates.
The discharge of a patient does not mark the end of contact between that patient and the hospital of admission. The move was made possible by operational excellence programs. All healthcare service providers are on the run to reduce readmission (Senot & Chandrasekaran, 2015). Once discharged, the patients are followed up through coordination with the community resources, such as the agencies of home health and physicians among others. The staff gives feedback regarding how the patients feel. The specialists work to see that the patients take drugs as prescribed and take food accordingly. Sometimes, the patients get worse to the point of readmission since they fail to take drugs for various reasons (Pezzani, 2018). Others may take medications but refuse to eat, and as a result, the blame for readmission is placed on the hospital, yet it was something that could be solved through follow-up. Certain healthcare centers make phone calls to the discharged patients to ascertain that they both comprehend and follow their given continued care plan. The calls are specifically meant to understand whether patients still have access to medications as well as other essential resources for alleviating their concerns (Kripalani et al., 2013). The medical facilities consider it their obligation to ensure that there is no deviation from what is expected of the patient since they would easily cause readmission. Patients with liver problems, for instance, must never take alcohol since it would only worsen their circumstances and lead to death.
Another impact is the improvement of coordination between a discharging hospital and other care providers for efficient management of patients once they are outside the healthcare setting. Discharging does not entirely mean a patient is healthy since there is a healing time required for people with critical illness before they are actually set to be free from care (Kripalani et al., 2013). The discharging hospital does not desire readmission. The transition from discharge to home or another place is essential since it dictates whether the patient is well or not. Healthcare centers want to ensure a safe transition, and this is only possible through operating with other care providers, such as nurses who work with patients from their homes.
The patients at the acute care level are usually at risk, and the initiatives have pushed healthcare facilities to hire managers, discharge planners, and registered nurses to administer care specifically to this patient category. Such persons identify the precise needs that these high-risk patients have and facilitate care before discharge. Such care workers are not required to attend to other obligations since they are tasked with the duty to care for these patients who might get readmitted if neglected. The hospitals have come up with policies as well as procedures that notify the assigned officers regarding a patient’s condition to determine when the discharge should be done based on test results and the healing progress (Senot & Chandrasekaran, 2015). The planners, managers, and registered nurses work hand in hand, thus playing their role to minimize the chance of mistakes. The management receives reports on the progress, and finally, the discharge is done with the consent of the senior manager who is also one of the most trained individuals in such centers of healthcare.
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To sum up, operational efficiency initiatives have an impact on the readmission rates in acute care, so there is not only a reduction in the rates but also an improvement in terms of care. The preventable readmission stems from insufficient integrity in medical care, poor discharge protocols, complications, and errors. The factors outside healthcare facilities are put into consideration since they contribute much to readmission. Adhering to operational excellence has remained a key to the quality of care, as hospitals have established a procedure to follow up with patients after discharge. Discharging patients by itself is now something huge that has been given much attention, as it contributes to readmission. The medical officers and every player in the hospital setting are on the run to make sure that the patient’s safety remains paramount. The hospitals that have failed by having numerous readmissions above the given levels have found themselves paying heavily in the form of penalties. Nevertheless, the general atmosphere in terms of quality of care and readmission is working, though there are a few who criticize the initiatives.