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5 Ways to Increase the Bed Occupancy Rate of Your Hospital

With the ever increasing competition in healthcare sector today, hospitals face several challenges including the changing expectations of patients, rising costs, technology upgrades, economic recessions, upward surges in uninsured patient care and increasing demand for outpatient services. Healthcare Operations Management (HOM) essentially involves streamlining healthcare operations to improve patient experience. Hence, it is crucial that HOM aids hospitals to take essential steps to increase their profitability.

For gauging a hospital’s profitability, there are several factors considered in the hospital performance measures. One such crucial factor is Hospital Bed Occupancy (HBO) which shows the actual utilization of the hospital’s inpatient health facility within a given time frame. It is calculated by ratio of total number of beds actually occupied by in-patients against the total number of beds available in the hospitals rooms for a specified period. To increase the occupancy rate, Healthcare Consulting Services (HCS) can help hospitals by deploying relevant strategies thereby impacting its bottom-line directly.

Some vital points on HBO Rates
  • HBO varies by the time of the day due to
  1. Routine Patient Discharges which typically happen at an assigned time-slot during the day.
  2. Late Discharges which happen after physicians assure that patients get their due arrangements for post-discharge care or when some diagnostic results are anticipated before allowing the patients to leave.
  3. Planned hospital admissions that arise mostly due to need for some diagnosis or surgery.
  4. Unplanned admissions that occur because the patient’s health condition needs medical attention.
  • HBO also varies by day of the week – This is because typically elective surgeries happen on weekdays and therefore the number of in- patients who need post -surgery care may drop on weekends.
  • HBO also depends on the location of the hospital, its ICU capacity, emergency handling capabilities and it’s overall reputation in delivering patient centric care and satisfaction.
  • Ideal value of HBO is around 85%. This is so because if occupancy is low, medical staff is less engaged leading to low workforce utilization and decrease of hospital revenues. On the contrary, if HBO is 100%, staff-burnouts occur, patient admissions are refused which defeats the very purpose of providing healthcare services and also hampers the hospital’s reputation and new patient referrals in the long run.
  • Undue long time boarding of in-patients in Emergency Rooms (ER) has detrimental effects on HBO due to decreased comfort levels, long waiting times and delay in treating real ER patients.

5 ways to increase the bed occupancy rate of your hospital
HCS are professionals with expertise and experience in Hospital Management who can provide guidance for increasing HBO rates in the following ways -

  • Planning and Managing Patient Discharge Times appropriately so that duly discharged in-patients vacate the hospital in the earlier part of the day to reduce overlap times and pave way for faster accommodations in new patient admissions and other patients seeking discharge.
  • Adequate Staff Recruitment especially for housekeeping, maintenance, patient help-desks and environmental services. This ensures that patient peak loads are handled properly, more so on week days, hygiene standards are maintained and expedites hospital room cleaning times so that new patients are admitted quickly without hitches.
  • Appropriate Physician/Surgeon Scheduling to handle contingencies of high HBO rates by allocating them on different times/days depending on nature of specialized treatment / surgery required and number of post- operative/Out-Patient Department (OPD) consultations.
  • Analysing Patient’s Length of Hospital Stay based on required treatment like deploying multiple
  1. Therapists to ensure that patients get required therapies in more frequent slots per day for faster recuperation.
  2. Customer service managers for supporting   faster home health care and nursing facilities.
  • Strategic Bed Occupancy Allotment which is to be made on the basis of current HBO and future forecasts with priority to patient related ailments. For example, low risk patients may be allocated general ward/rooms while high risk ones need bed occupancy in critical care units.
In summary, effective HBO can result in a win-win situation for attaining both effective patient outcomes and maximizing hospital revenues.

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