Case Management

Accountable care units can help streamline communication and reduce length of stay

Case Management Monthly, November 1, 2016

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Opening the lines of communication between clinicians and specialists to make care more efficient can be a sizable challenge.
 
At many facilities, hospitalists shuttle from floor to floor to see patients, each time trying to track down the nurse and other professionals working on each case. Information is typically transferred through an inefficient system of pages and phone calls, sometimes taking hours at a time to deliver crucial pieces of information.
 
Enter the accountable care unit, a new way of configuring care systems that can help to uncoil tangled communication wires between clinicians and support staff to provide care that is more efficient and streamlined.
 
In this model, hospitalists work with patients in a specified geographical area of the hospital in conjunction with interdisciplinary teams.

Having patients in one area helps make care more efficient, and as one hospital system in New Mexico learned, can also reduce length of stay and increase cost-efficiency.
 
Regionalization of hospitalist patients is becoming more common today, because of the benefits it's been shown to bring, says Stefani Daniels, RN, MSNA, ACM, CMAC, founder and managing partner of Phoenix Medical Management in Pompano Beach, Florida. Those benefits include:
  • Improved teamwork, care coordination, and communication
  • Fewer readmissions
  • Improved resource management to lower cost of care
  • Improvements in patient satisfaction
  • Reduction in inefficiencies
"I'm pushing accountable care units at all my hospital clients," says Daniels. But while the will is there in many cases to make the change, it's not always an easy conversion.
Sometimes these initiatives face pushback from physicians concerned about personnel or scheduling issues.
Other challenges include:
  • The lack of diagnostic diversity that results from having set teams on a unit
  • The challenge of deciding whether teams should be flexible or static
  • Hammering out logistical issues, such as how patients should be triaged and how beds are managed

This is an excerpt from a member only article. To read the article in its entirety, please login or subscribe to Case Management Monthly.

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