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Communication Facilitator Beneficial in Intensive Care Unit

Full-time, trained communication facilitator improves quality of care, costs

man on respirator

MONDAY, Oct. 10, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Adding a full-time trained communication facilitator in the intensive care unit (ICU) may improve quality of care while also reducing costs, according to a study published online Sept. 27 in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

Nita Khandelwal, M.D., from the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues assessed the economic feasibility of staffing ICUs with a communication facilitator. This was measured through 135 patients admitted to the ICU at a single hospital. All patients had predicted mortality ≥30 percent and a surrogate decision maker.

The researchers found that total ICU costs (mean, $22.8k; P = 0.02) and average daily ICU costs (mean, −$0.38k; P = 0.006) were significantly lower with the intervention. With a 1.0 full-time equivalent facilitator and predicted ICU mortality of 15 percent, the simulation demonstrated a total weekly ICU cost savings of $58,400 and weekly direct-variable savings of $5,700, after incorporating facilitator costs.

"Adding a full-time trained communication facilitator in the ICU may improve quality of care while simultaneously reducing short- (direct-variable) and long-term (total) health care costs," the authors write. "This intervention is likely [to] be more cost-effective in a lower mortality population."

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