Brief Reports

Hospitalist and Internal Medicine Leaders’ Perspectives of Early Discharge Challenges at Academic Medical Centers

Abstract

Improving early discharges may improve patient flow and increase hospital capacity. We conducted a national survey of academic medical centers addressing the prevalence, importance, and effectiveness of early-discharge initiatives. We assembled a list of hospitalist and general internal medicine leaders at 115 US-based academic medical centers. We emailed each institutional representative a 30-item online survey regarding early-discharge initiatives. The survey included questions on discharge prioritization, the prevalence and effectiveness of early-discharge initiatives, and barriers to implementation. We received 61 responses from 115 institutions (53% response rate). Forty-seven (77%) “strongly agreed” or “agreed” that early discharge was a priority. “Discharge by noon” was the most cited goal (n = 23; 38%) followed by “no set time but overall goal for improvement” (n = 13; 21%). The majority of respondents reported early discharge as more important than obtaining translators for non-English-speaking patients and equally important as reducing 30-day readmissions and improving patient satisfaction. The most commonly reported factors delaying discharge were availability of postacute care beds (n = 48; 79%) and patient-related transport complications (n = 44; 72%). The most effective early discharge initiatives reported involved changes to the rounding process, such as preemptive identification and early preparation of discharge paperwork (n = 34; 56%) and communication with patients about anticipated discharge (n = 29; 48%). There is a strong interest in increasing early discharges in an effort to improve hospital throughput and patient flow.

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