Since 2000, reducing hospital readmissions has been an important goal in healthcare. In 2012, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) included the Hospital Readmission Reduction Program to encourage hospitals to lower readmissions. When a patient discharged from the hospital is rehospitalized within 30 days of returning home, it is known as readmission or rehospitalization.
Importance of Reducing Hospital Readmissions
Readmissions are costly and reduce patient care outcomes and satisfaction. To better understand what patients are being readmitted, hospitals can analyze health data found in electronic health records (EHRs) and health information exchanges (HIEs). With that knowledge, hospitals can implement strategies that are proven to reduce the risk of readmission after a patient is discharged.
Ways to Reduce Hospital Readmissions
These five methods could help hospitals reduce readmissions immediately:
Use ADT data to ensure the smooth transition of care.
It is critical for clinicians and care teams to understand what is going on with their patients to provide appropriate help and outreach as they progress through the healthcare system during or after a health-related occurrence. Claims or authorization data aren’t beneficial since it takes time for that information to be analyzed and delivered to a patient’s clinical provider.
Hospitals can utilize ADT services to build their hospital information system and connect the new one with the existing one, reducing readmissions. Setting up ADT alerts can assist in lowering hospital readmissions by allowing care teams to provide timely outreach and assistance.
Check-in with patients after discharge.
Though it might seem like an easy fix, clinicians and care teams often find it difficult to follow up with patients after they leave the hospital. Studies have shown, however, that a post-discharge follow-up effectively reduces the probability of readmission, a common and costly problem in hospitals. Given this research, doctors and nurses should try to incorporate a follow-up process into their workflow.
Using readmission risk factors.
Hospitals may utilize real-time data and predictive modeling to spot readmission risk factors. Hospitals can assess prevalent readmission risk factors using population health data from the EHR or HIE, such as age, gender, diabetes mellitus, obesity, smoking status (current or former), heart disease (angina pectoris), cancer history in first-degree relatives of patients with breast cancer/breast cancer survivors; myocardial infarction without ST elevation; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease receiving respiratory support at home; hypertension treatment alone; ischemic stroke symptoms lasting more than 24 hours.
Support medication adherence to avoid rehospitalization.
Adhering to medical treatment is essential when aiming to reduce rehospitalization rates. In a study of hospitalizations caused by medication nonadherence, 33% to 69% were linked to nonadherence; that is, a patient stops taking their medicine or fails to fill their prescription in the first place. Patients who are receiving medication support may have a decreased risk of readmission. According to findings from 2017 research, patients with low-to-intermediate adherence had a 20 percent readmission rate compared to 9.3 percent for those with high adherence.
If a patient has previously had a medication-related hospitalization, their EHR may show evidence of compliance. Other data, such as any chronic health problems and a recent list of medications, might also be used to identify persons who require assistance with medication adherence as part of a post-discharge strategy.
Furthermore, medical professionals should collaborate with patients to determine whether they can obtain prescription medicines before discharge to help them overcome potential hindrances and barriers.
Ensuring that patients understand discharge instructions.
Preventing readmissions can also be done by making sure patients comprehend and can follow discharge instructions. Frequently, comprehension is an issue for patients; most forget what they’re told or aren’t aware that they don’t understand in the first place. Studies have found this especially true for those discharged from the emergency department.
The care team should explain the discharge instructions in a way that is easy to understand. In addition to going over the information verbally, they should provide printed sheets or digital copies of the instructions for patients to take home. The teach-back method can help patients understand what they need to do and who they can contact with questions or concerns.
Mr. Edward is a visionary who constantly creates solutions in patient care through research and implementation of new technology into the hospital setting. He understands that reducing readmission rates benefits the patients and the hospitals and health systems. There are many ways to reduce readmissions, and we urge you to explore this website for more information on how you can help keep your loved ones healthy and out of the hospital.