Advertisement
Dedicated Hospital Observation Units to the Rescue

Dedicated Hospital Observation Units to the Rescue

Along with growing demand, rising costs and lower payments have threatened the financial viability of many hospitals, resulting in ED and hospital closures and a mismatch of supply and demand for acute care services. Considering these recent trends, efforts to improve healthcare efficiency are shifting focus toward enhancing hospital efficiency. Delivering care in observation units is an alternative to admitting patients who cannot be safely discharged to their homes following ED visits. Observation units are dedicated spaces where patients receive care, usually for up to 24 hours. Studies suggest that care in observation units is equal or better in terms of quality and lower in cost than inpatient care for specific conditions. The strongest evidence supporting the benefits of observation care is specific to care delivered in dedicated observation units. Unfortunately, only one-third of hospitals deliver this care in an observation unit. Potential Cost Savings with Observation Unit Use Understanding the financial impact of increased use of observation unit care is important for healthcare delivery redesign. In an issue of Health Affairs, my colleagues and I published a study that quantified the potential cost savings from decreasing avoidable inpatient admissions by using dedicated observation units more frequently in hospitals that could justify opening one. We performed a systematic literature review to find the average cost savings per observation unit visit and then used a Monte Carlo simulation model to estimate the number of avoided inpatient admissions and associated cost savings at the hospital and national level. According to our results, wider use of hospital observation units could save the healthcare system billions of dollars each year. The average amount...
[ HIDE/SHOW ]