Real time information systems showing whether patients have received physiotherapy, tests and investigations can help shorten hospital stays, says the Nuffield Trust.
Improving length of stay: what can hospitals do? Read the full report below
Case studies indicate that these systems do not have to be digital – a whiteboard can easily be updated and changed, according to a report published on 9 September.
‘Real time systems that show a patient’s estimated discharge date and what investigations the patient is waiting for that day can be helpful, particularly if there is a feedback loop to ensure activities have taken place,’ it says.
The report is part of a larger project by regulator Monitor, the NHS regulatory body for England. This aims to find the best ways of improving the quality of care in light of pressures on urgent and emergency NHS services.
Reducing the length of time patients remain in hospital could help tackle the growing demand for beds, as well as releasing capacity in the system, the document says.
It cites evidence that therapy can play a crucial role in approaches such as proactive patient management and enhanced recovery programmes, as well as reducing complications, pressure ulcers and respiratory infections.
In addition, the Nuffield Trust found that therapy services can enable acute adult patients to recover at home, thereby cutting inpatient stays.
The health charity’s review found that older patients who followed multidisciplinary or exercise programmes scored better on physical functional tests than those who did not. They also were less likely to be discharged to nursing homes and spent less time in hospital.
Steve Tolan, the CSP’s head of practice, welcomed the trust’s recognition that physiotherapy can help to reduce the length of admissions.
‘The CSP has spoken on many occasions with influential healthcare think tanks about physiotherapy’s ability to reduce dependence, increase resilience and expedite care and we’re pleased this has proved successful,’ he said.
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