Hospital bed management is the allocation of hospital services to get patients into the right department and transfer or discharge them as they start to feel better. This includes not just physical beds, but also equipment, like telemonitoring devices, and personnel, like nurses, to go along with them. Patients need to have access to a complete set of resources in the hospital environment and the facility should consider issues like nurse to patient ratios as it assigns personnel and patients. Software programs are also available to streamline this process.
Within a given ward, supervisors are supposed to keep track of empty beds open and available for use. Information about equipment and services linked to them also needs to be available, such as whether they are in private or shared rooms, and what kind of medical equipment is already in place on the floor. In addition, supervisors monitor patients to determine when beds are likely to be available as a result of transfers or discharges. As soon as patients leave the department, their spaces can be cleaned and made available in the hospital bed management system.
Some facilities rarely have problems with getting patients into the right ward quickly. This minimizes the amount of time they spend in the emergency department or in the wrong ward, which can improve patient outcomes and increase satisfaction. Other facilities have recurrent crises where they have trouble getting patients where they need to go. This can be common when they operate close to capacity or don’t exercise sound hospital bed management.
Software to handle patient flow throughout a facility can help. With electronic medical records, patients can be tracked from admission through the treatment process, and personnel can provide constant updates. These help members of the hospital bed management team determine when and where beds are likely to be available so they can allocate them. They can also respond to requests for hospitalizations with information about wait times to help ambulances and patients decide if they should go to a different facility.
In addition to promoting hospital bed management with procedures inside the facility, social services outside can make a difference as well. Hospitals in some nations may not be allowed to send patients home if they cannot care for themselves. By making beds available in transitional housing, skilled nursing facilities, and similar organizations, the health care system can ensure that hospitalized patients really need to be in a hospital. Otherwise, people may be forced to stay on general wards when they really just need assistance with tasks of daily living, not monitoring from nursing staff.