Background and Objective:
Hospitals worldwide are faced with the problem of discharging patients on time. Delayed discharge creates domino effects with significant implications for hospitals. The accountable care team (ACT) is a multidisciplinary, unit-based approach to identifying opportunities to improve patient care and address inefficiencies in care delivery and throughput, including assuring timely discharges. In response to concerns about emergency department boarding times and delays in timely discharge, the ACT recommended a set of strategies to improve communication across team members and to reduce wait times for transportation within and outside the hospital. Collectively these strategies were thought to increase the proportion of patients discharged on time. In this article, we describe and assess changes in timely discharge resulting from the implementation of strategies recommended by the ACT.
This study uses a retrospective, quasi-experimental design to compare the percentage of discharges by 1 pm of hospital units implementing the ACT intervention to those units not implementing the intervention. Median discharge time was compared pre- and post-implementation using the Wilcoxon rank sum test. Difference-in-differences modeling was employed to assess whether changes in the percentage of discharges by 1 pm differed between units implementing the intervention and units not implementing the intervention.
One month post-implementation, the percentage discharged by 1 pm was statistically significantly higher for units implementing the intervention (53.6%) compared with comparison units (22.5%, t = −4.48, P < .01). Statistically significant differences in the percentage discharged by 1 pm were also seen at 3 and 6 months post-implementation. The median discharge time showed a statistically significant decrease by 77 minutes from the baseline to intervention period (P < .01).
The result from the study suggests that ACTs can be used to develop approaches aimed at improving patient care in general, and discharge efficiencies in particular. Health care organizations are encouraged to utilize and then evaluate the specific activities of multidisciplinary teams aimed at developing recommendations for practice improvement.