How do digital chest drainage systems increase hospital profitability?
1. Lower overall costs per patient
Numerous studies, including a recent meta-analysis of 10 clinical trials in over 1200 patients, have demonstrated the superiority of digital chest drainage systems over older underwater seal drains in 3 key clinical areas:1,2
- Significantly shorter chest tube durations
- Shorter durations of air leak
- Significantly shorter length of hospital stays
Each of these has potential implications for cost-effective care. With shorter air leak and chest tube durations, hospitals can:
- Mobilize patients for discharge quicker
- Free up beds for new patients
- Care for a higher volume of patients
Overall costs per patient may likewise be lower, due in part to the shorter length of hospital stay. Shortening a patient’s length of stay by as little as 1 day has the potential to “more than make up for” up-front costs with digital systems, according to one study.3
2. Improved operational efficiencies
The subjective interpretation of air leaks with underwater seal drains can hinder implementation of care protocols related to chest tube management. Inter-observer variability of bubbling in the water chamber can lead some care members to see an air leak where others do not (read more in our article about "Advancing patient recovery with digital chest drainage". Such uncertainty can impede the smooth implementation of care protocols.
Digital systems, on the other hand, help care teams establish protocols to standardize patient management and improve efficiencies.3-5 Objective air leak data replaces subjective observer interpretation, helping clinicians make faster, more informed decisions. This allows for the smooth implementation of protocols that advance care and keep teams operating at peak efficiency. Less time wasted on operational inefficiencies means more money saved.
3. Reduced staff training costs
The objective recording of data with digital systems offers another potential benefit over subjective interpretation with underwater seal drains. The multidisciplinary staff providing postsurgical care has different levels of expertise, experience, and training—including with chest drains. The objective nature of digital systems can eradicate these differences. Diverse care team members—such as surgeons, physicians, residents, and nurses—can all accurately assess air leaks and other critical data points regardless of knowledge level.6-8
Likewise, smooth implementation of care protocols with digital systems can help reduce staff training time. This helps hospitals avoid unnecessary training costs and puts team members on a faster track to understanding the system.3