Shorter Hospital Stays Reduce Costs and Deliver Higher Value

Being in hospital is often uncomfortable and can lead to trauma for in-patients on top of a financial burden.  Acute Care for Elders (ACE), a part of the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) is setting out to minimize hospital stays for elderly patients.

According to MedicalXpress, the ACE project is being piloted in 200 hospitals in the USA, serving approximately 100,000 patients per year.

Seth Landefeld, MD, chief of the UCSF Division of Geriatrics told MedicalXpress that the cost of hospital stays is one of the fastest growing components of health care. “This was really an opportunity to look at how you can deliver higher value care while maintaining or improving quality and reducing cost.”

Research found that patients in the ACE program had shorter stays in hospitals. Complementing these findings is that patients in the ACE program incurred lower hospital costs, a savings of nearly $1000.00 per patient. Landefeld projected a one percent saving of all Medicare expenditures or $6 billion a year.

Deborah Barnes, PhD, MPH, an associate professor in the departments of Psychiatry and Epidemiology & Biostatistics at UCSF, said the study showed that the ACE project saves money while maintaining the quality of care.

The UCSF researchers maintain that minor changes in the health care model can lead to significant results. Landefeld told MedicalXpress: "Leaving patients in their hospital beds, or constantly interrupting them in the middle of the night for disruptive evaluations, can lead to longer recovery time and longer hospital stays."

ACE works on the premise that elderly want to leave hospital as soon as possible and go home. Landefeld said that cuts down on hospital stays through superior communication. “It’s a worthwhile investment because you’re saving about half a day of hospitalization for these patients.”