Healthcare Cost Containment: How Beaufort Memorial Improved LOS/Reduced Costs by $480,000

New patient flow software and a change in employee attitudes and work habits improves patient throughput at an independent, acute care hospital.

In 2013, Beaufort Memorial Hospital (BMH), Beaufort, S.C., made improving patient flow a strategic priority. The hospital’s goal was to identify and better manage clinical outliers that can impede patient throughput, such as patients who are readmitted within 30 days, exceed their reimbursed length of stay (LOS), or occupy higher acuity beds than necessary.

Beaufort Memorial implemented a new software application to assist hospital leaders in this effort. As it turns out, improving patient flow at the 197-bed hospital required more than just technology; it required a change in culture and processes for everyone whose work affects patient throughput—from unit nurses and case managers to patient transport and environmental services staff.

“It took us a while to understand that this wasn’t about a software implementation,” says Ed Ricks, CIO for BMH. “It was about a performance improvement project.” The hospital gained buy-in by setting up a structure of accountability for improving performance and providing more focused training and better communication about its objectives with the tool. In about two months, BMH leaders saw better staff workflow and patient throughput that reduced LOS and added up to annual cost reductions of $480,000 resulting from the decreased use of services in the shorter stay.

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April 2014 issue of Healthcare Cost Containment. Copyright 2010 by Healthcare Financial Management Association,

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