How to Improve the Patient Discharge Experience

Improving the patient discharge process is a top priority and key performance target for many hospitals.

Once people no longer require hospital care, they may need to be transferred back to their GP or to a suitable secondary care setting. Unfortunately, delays and poor communication can significantly reduce the quality of the patient experience in this. To increase patient satisfaction and retention, hospitals should regularly look into optimisations to achieve the targets they strive towards.

We have pulled together a few simple tips that can be implemented in your hospital to enhance discharge experiences:

Implement Best Practice in Discharge

Once ready to be discharged, there are several reasons the patient can be waiting longer than expected. Without clear communication and a structured process in place, this could leave the person disgruntled and unlikely to return if they are not happy with the wait.

Ensuring you have a well-documented and planned process that is clearly communicated with the patient upon admission will reduce any confusion with the patient or their family when it’s time to leave. Using software that holds such key information on a central database will allow all care givers within the hospital to be able to follow the patient’s timeline and share information with them where suitable.

If a patient requires prescribed items, best practise is to also ensure this prescription has been written (and potentially dispensed) ahead of them leaving the building. By implementing suitable software that stores the patient’s prescription information centrally, you can reduce delays in the discharge process through fast data retrieval in any circumstance.

Fast & Personalised Follow-Ups

With social distancing still in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, many patients will feel considerably more isolated after being discharged. This heightened loneliness post-operation could reflect poorly on your setting and leave patients feeling neglected. With the ‘new normal’, the lack of face-to-face check-ups following discharge can also exasperate the problem.

To resolve this, hospitals should consider integrated telehealth solutions to ensure quick and attentive patient communication. By scheduling follow-ups via video link, the patient will receive the full attention of their care provider in a timely fashion, improving satisfaction from the comfort of their own home. Without the need to book physical appointments, travel time and other factors are removed. So healthcare professionals can increase the number of patients virtually seen for follow-up within the 24 – 72-hour window.

In addition, it can be valuable to include time in the follow-ups to listen to the views of patients. This provides an understanding of how services can be improved through learning from the patient voice.

Integrated eDischarge Summary Forms

NHS England requires hospitals to send inpatient and day-case eDischarge Summaries to GP practices electronically. For private hospitals, it is best practice to also follow this requirement when submitting data to GPs. By employing an effective software solution that can digitally transfer eDischarge Summaries back to primary care, hospitals will improve communication of important data and eliminate manual paper copies that risk getting lost or delayed. This not only increases safety for patients with their data being sent to the right place, at the right time, but also reduces time-consuming manual rekeying of data for GPs.

For hospitals who already use our industry-leading healthcare software, Compucare, our upcoming releases will see a new eDischarge Summary form that ensures safety and continuity of care during inpatient and day-case discharge. The eDischarge form electronically transfers standardised clinical information in accordance with the PRSB standard via the NHS Digital MESH Service. Introducing this functionality ensures faster patient discharge turn-around times, and improved patient satisfaction. Existing users can request more information on this functionality by contacting our dedicated Account Managers.

Streets Heaver is a leading provider of healthcare software, delivering solutions across the UK and beyond. To find out more, click here.