Outpatient vs. Inpatient

Outpatient vs. Inpatient

These terms are used to depict different settings. They are used to differentiate therapeutic or diagnostic procedure in health matters. Inpatient refers to the procedures that a patient requires to be admitted to a health institution (Riverin, 2017). The primary reason for admission is to ensure close monitoring during the procedure as well as afterward. Outpatient refers to the process that does not necessitate hospital admission as well as being performed away from the hospital premises (Ali, 2016).

For instance, computerized tomography examination that is done on the head is a regular diagnostic test. It can be performed on both inpatients as well as an outpatient basis. Normally the procedure is similar in both outpatient and inpatient. Commonly, the performance in both outpatient, as well as inpatient, is always in the same setting as in the hospital though outpatient is ambulatory hence does not require the patient to be admitted to the hospital (Ali, 2016).

Most of the therapeutically and surgical procedures qualify to be performed under an outpatient setup. It is possible since they do not involve lengthy hospital stays. In most cases, the patient recovers and resumes their daily life or returns to work within minimal days (Dahabreh, Steele, Shah & Trikalinos, 2014). Minimal as well as invasion procedures that are instituted by diagnostic imaging have caused paradigm shift from inpatient towards outpatient medicine. Some of the benefits include faster as well as less painful procedures, second therapeutic outcome, and better well-being of the patient.

In a usual scenario, inpatient setting gives a patient a resident that makes him, or she completely focuses on getting well as well as sober without the interference of their daily life. In most cases, the days are well scheduled. They have a session with counselors, psychiatrist, and psychologist either individually or in a group setup (Rogers & Davis, 2006).

Trends that are having Impact in Both Inpatient and Outpatient

The onset of the cost-sharing model and high-deductible health plans that started a decade ago leading to the development of health insurance has motivated the development of consumerism in the health industry. Most hospitals and physicians are innovating new ways to satisfy their patients who are more informed. Considerably, website, as well as apps, has enabled the patient to acquire more health information through a partnership with private companies. This initiative has led to the distribution of cost as well as better quality of care data (Eng & Steinman, 2014).

Consumer-driven health care notwithstanding there are numerous trends that are driving a shift in the health industry. Considerably, hospitals that embrace these new changes can be in a better position in ensuring their financial sustainability in an era where competitive pricing as well satisfaction of the patient is paramount to the success of the hospital (Eng & Steinman, 2014). Some of the trends that are taking place in the healthcare industry include:

Private companies and payers’ concern is promoting transparency in the cost of care. Some of this organization as well as the government have published information on insurance plan thereby allowing consumers to have a comparison of the provider with regards to safety, quality, and satisfaction of the patient indicators in the health industry (Green& Rowell, 2015). Some of these organizations have gone a step ahead to providing information concerning the paid claims (Eng & Steinman, 2014).

Impact of trends in the outpatient setting

Several trends have changed the outpatient setting. These trends include the necessity to control the cost of healthcare. This need has been stimulated by the demand for the healthcare system to cater for the aging baby boomers since inpatient is relatively expensive therefore the need to reduce the inpatient hospital bills such as Medicare (Leff, 2013). Another trend is better healthcare technologies. For instance, most of the surgical and the procedures are less invasive. Notably, these procedures are currently done in an outpatient setup thereby reducing the number of inpatient admission. Some home monitoring and telemedicine devices have led to a reduction in the need for hospitalization. Today there is more emphasis on health care as opposed to disease care. It is considered that directing funds towards health promotion and prevention rather than procedures and treatment can be attainable through the outpatient health care. Fewer hospitalization days as inpatient assist in reducing preventable complicated and infectious diseases.

These changes from inpatient to outpatient treatment have affected nursing and nursing care in some ways. Nurses have realized a new opportunity in the trend of outpatient support and attention.  For example, nurses can work out with the hospital management in developing a program like the pediatric asthma clinics as well as home visits to follow up on the patients that have congestive heart failure. Another development is geniuses’ ability to start and own nonprofit agencies and businesses such as health education, case management health promotion services in a community-based organization for outpatients. Nurses too can assist in the reduction of complications and preventable readmissions (Dahabreh et al., 2014). This development has led to the development of quality patient care.

Ways of capitalizing on the trend and mitigation of the adverse impacts.

One on the negative impact include problems concerning the quality and safety experienced in the ambulatory setting by patients and providers due to delayed or missed diagnosis. Some of the claims have revealed that 59 percent of errors harmed patients by either causing serious harm or leading to the death of patients. The most common problem is associated with poor follow up plan in ordering an appropriate test and getting enough history as well as incorrect diagnostic tests interpretation. In some circumstances, the errors were due to an error of judgments, memory failure, deficit knowledge, factors related to patients as well as handoffs. Therefore, the solution can be addressed by looking into human factors, ineffective communication, system problems and information flow (Newhill, 2015).

Another negative impact is a delay in administering proper treatment or preventive services since the outpatient setup may experience faulty processes, time pressure, financial constraints, inadequately trained staff, failure in the teamwork as well as improper communication with the patient together with the family due to language barrier and illiteracy (Newhill, 2015). Therefore, to solve the problem, there is need to address lack of teamwork, ineffective communication, normalization of insufficient clinical procedure, failure in clinical leadership and clinical-patient roles as well as responsibility.

Medication problem forms part of the disadvantages to the outpatient setting. This problem is due to misunderstandings between doctors and patients. To mitigate this problem, the administrator should capitalize on addressing the communication process, inaccurate understanding, and reconciliation of medication among providers as well as other professionals in the healthcare (Newhill, 2015).


Ali, N. (2016). Understanding fibromyalgia: An introduction for patients and caregivers.

Dahabreh, I. J., Steele, D. W., Shah, N.,&Trikalinos, T. A., (2014). Oral mechanical bowel preparation for colorectal surgery.

Eng, J. A., & Steinman, M. A. (2014). Changing chronic medications in hospitalized patients-Bridging the inpatient-outpatient divide. Journal of Hospital Medicine9(5), 332-333. doi:10.1002/jhm.2172

Green, M. A., & Rowell, J. A. (2015). Understanding health insurance: A guide to billing and reimbursement.

Leff, R. M. (2012). Experimental-Clinical Treatment: Inpatient and Outpatient Service. PsycEXTRA Dataset. doi:10.1037/e465412008-248

Newhill, C. E. (2015). Interventions for severe mental disorders: Working with individuals and their families.

Riverin, D. B. (2017). Innovations and opportunities for primary health care after hospital discharge: An application of causal inference methods in health services research.

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