A review of data published by the CDC reveals some interesting trends. Over the past three months, hospital bed utilization estimates range between 55% and 65% nationally. This same dataset provides estimates showing utilization attributable to COVID-19 trending slightly down, with a high of approximately 10.9% in early April to 7.2% in early July. In fact, recent overall utilization is trending up while COVID-19 attribution is trending slightly downward. These trends provoke an interesting question … if not related to the virus, what is driving higher hospital utilization?
One possible answer … patients are resuming plans for elective procedures. During the onset of the pandemic, general guidance suggested to delay elective procedures, which actually include the vast majority of all inpatient procedures. Whether a critical case or something to improve appearance or quality of life, many procedures were postponed due to broad uncertainties and adjusted protocols necessary for addressing the pandemic. Now, national and local data of increased utilization suggests that these elective procedures are being performed.
The most effective care continuum from patient intake to discharge indicates that post-discharge callbacks are not only effective but are actually essential to improving patient recovery as well as driving higher overall patient satisfaction. Well-timed, scripted callbacks from hospital representatives have many purposes, from confirming compliance of prescribed regimens and therapies, to uncovering unexpected challenges from which physicians and caregivers can be alerted as to problems. Prior to COVID-19 and now, post-discharge callbacks are very important to ensure that patients transition and recover as expected from a hospital stay.
For hospital systems, the challenge is greater than ever. Prior to COVID-19, many hospitals across the nation were challenged with allocating valuable nursing resources for these callbacks. In the midst of the pandemic, that challenge is magnified. Many hospitals were forced to have staff reductions due to intentional slow-down of elective procedures. Now that trends suggest an uptick in resuming these procedures, nursing resources are fully committed to inpatient care. It is possible if not likely that post-discharge callbacks may not have a high priority in the current environment. But the importance remains and perhaps is greater … patients expect follow-up and need reassurance as to their recovery progress.
For hospitals and physician practices, partnerships with firms such as PREMEDEX can help address this challenge and actually improve overall hospital performance. With both clinical and non-clinical professionals, PREMEDEX connects with thousands of patients every day to check on their recovery while also alerting caregivers as to potential problems discovered through those conversations. Client hospitals have seen improved performance in both readmissions and overall patient satisfaction with PREMEDEX programs.
COVID-19 continues to challenge the healthcare community. Routine and necessary patient communications need to continue.
Contact PREMEDEX to learn how we can help you connect with your patient population.