The Expensive Cost Behind Excess Length of Stay

As you know, the unnecessary or avoidable days a patient spends in the hospital can really add up! But do you know exactly how much money is being spent on excess length of stay? 

The average cost of hospital stays

Each year hospitals spend billions of dollars on extra inpatient days that were not clinically necessary. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, in 2017 3.5 million adult hospital stays were considered potentially avoidable, costing nearly $34 billion. This number may seem overwhelming, but with the help of technology and predictive analytics those costs can be avoided.

In 2019, State/local government hospitals in the United States spent $2,372 on inpatient day expenses, non-profit hospitals spent $2,738, and for profit hospitals spent $2,149. The average length of stay of a hospital patient in the United States in 4.5 days. Each extra, avoidable day that a patient spends in the hospital results in additional costs, unnecessary use of resources, and wasted time that can be spent helping other patients.

Excess length of stay vs average length of stay

There is often a lot of focus around the “average length of stay”, but this metric, while important, does not consider the wide range of factors surrounding case load or the severity of a patient’s condition. Sometimes a “long” length of stay is clinically necessary and that is okay!

It is more meaningful to focus on excess length of stay (LOS), which reflects unnecessary or avoidable days of a hospital stay that may reflect a LOS that extends beyond the time a patient should have been clinically ready for discharge. By comparing the actual length of stay to the benchmark LOS for the conditions that were treated, a more fair assessment can be made regarding the efficiency of the care. External factors, such as social determinants of health (SDOH) or complex post-discharge placement, are often a cause of excess LOS. Identifying and addressing these issues in a timely manner can ensure that patients are personally and logistically ready to be discharged once they are deemed clinically ready.

How to reduce LOS costs

Reducing excess length of stay improves patient and organizational outcomes, while saving a significant amount of money. But doing so requires up-to-the-second insight derived from massive amounts of structured and unstructured health data.

Technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) have the power to unlock unstructured data in the electronic health record (EHR) to help physicians and case managers make decisions on a patient’s care journey and hospital discharge plan.

Pieces Predict begins reducing length of stay from the moment of intake, and its real-time insights continue through the entire patient journey. With proactive clinical interventions derived from Pieces Predict, healthcare organizations become nimbler, more aligned, and more successful. In fact, a private non-profit teaching hospital experienced an 88% relative reduction in average percent of excess LOS by partnering with Pieces.

Ready to calculate and reduce your excess LOS stay costs? To learn more about how our solution can make a difference for your hospital or health system, contact us today.