Patient Navigation Program Leads to Efficiencies in Hospital Discharge Process

A standardized discharge navigation program for patients undergoing colectomy resulted in efficient, cost-effective patient throughput and significantly earlier discharge time with no adverse effect on readmission rates.1

Delayed discharge can be the catalyst for a patient gridlock that puts the hospital at maximum capacity, thereby delaying admissions and treatment for new patients. A standardized discharge navigation program could correct the inefficiencies and expedite patient discharge.

In this study, researchers conducted a retrospective review of adult patients who underwent an elective colectomy and were discharged home between January 2007 and May 2014. A navigation program was set up to facilitate and standardize discharge process at the tertiary care center.

Researchers compared 3 groups: phase I, prior to implementation; phase II, one navigator focusing on same-day discharge; and phase III, 2 navigators focusing on same-day and future discharges. Patient discharge time, the time discharge orders were written, readmission, and length of stay were the primary outcomes measured.

The discharge navigation program resulted in more discharge orders being written before 11 am compared with prior to implementation of the program (65.3% vs 50%, respectively; P <.01) and more patients left the hospital before 2 pm (60.2% vs 52.5%; P =.02). Median discharge time was 30 minutes earlier after implementing the navigation program (P =.01). Readmission rates (15.2% vs 15.7%; P =.82) and median length of stay (4 days vs 4 days; P =.21) remained similar between the 2 groups.

The researchers conclude that a standardized navigation program for patients undergoing elective colectomy resulted in earlier time of discharge with no adverse impact on the readmission rate.


1. Bozorghadad S, Dove J, Scholtis L, et al. A hospital discharge navigation program: the positive impact of facilitating the discharge navigation process. Am J Manag Care. 2016 Jun 21. [Epub ahead of print]

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