Hospital readmissions are a major problem in the United States. Over 30% of Medicare payments go toward treating people who were discharged from hospitals but returned within 30 days, and half of those patients return within 90 days. This is bad for patients, because they get sicker while they’re away from home and they may not have access to their own doctors and medications. It’s also bad for the hospital, which loses money due to wasted resources on treatment that doesn’t help people get better faster.
So what can we do about this? Fortunately there are some simple things you can do right now that could make a big difference in reducing readmissions.
Make sure patients know how to use their medications correctly
A common cause of hospital readmission is patients who are not able to self-administer their medications correctly. Patients with chronic illness, such as diabetes or heart disease, need to be able to take their medications without assistance. However, many patients do not know how to administer their own medication at home and end up needing another trip to the emergency room because they took too much or too little medication. Even more concerning is that some patients do not know how certain medications should be taken with food or on an empty stomach—or what side effects they should look out for when taking a new prescription drug.
If you have ever had a family member who uses multiple prescriptions every day and has been hospitalized multiple times due to improper use of their medications, then you can relate when we say this is a serious problem that needs addressing in our healthcare system today.
We need more education about how best ways for people with chronic conditions can manage them so that they don’t end up back in hospital unnecessarily just because they took too much blood pressure medicine on an empty stomach (which causes dizziness) after eating pizza last night before bedtime (which causes indigestion).
Ensure patients stay in contact with their primary care physician
You know that your patients need to stay in contact with their primary care physician, but how can you ensure it?
You could mandate an annual check-in for all patients. Make sure they make the appointment and show up on time (this will help them develop a habit of keeping appointments). Then, during the visit:
- Review medications and discuss any changes to dosages or side effects.
- Ask about diet, exercise and stress levels.
- Discuss follow up appointments and make sure they are scheduled as necessary.
Help patients manage pain appropriately
Pain is a problem. Pain can be managed.
Pain management, which includes pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic therapies, is a critical part of the hospital stay because it can help to improve both short-term and long-term outcomes for patients.
It’s important that patients report all changes in your condition so that appropriate treatment can be provided: It may take more than one attempt at drug therapy before you find an effective level of pain control for each individual patient based on his/her medical history and preferences regarding medications prescribed by a physician.
Help patients manage their diet according to the doctor’s recommendations
While nutrition is important for recovery, some patients have difficulty following doctor’s orders when it comes to diet. This can result in malnutrition, which can lead to further complications during the recovery process.
A hospital that has experience managing nutritional needs will be able to provide patients with a nutrition plan that they can follow while at the hospital. The plan should be easy-to-follow and meet all of your nutritional needs while recovering from surgery or serious injury. The staff should also be prepared to help you stick with your plan even if you leave the hospital before your treatment is complete (and should even encourage this).
Institute a system of follow up calls, emails and texts
The key to reducing readmissions is to ensure that patients are called, emailed and texted after they’ve been discharged. This can be done by setting up a system that:
- Is personalized to each patient in the hospital
- Automates the process of following up with patients after discharge so that it doesn’t take up valuable time for busy nurses or doctors
- Is easy to use by both nurses and patients (i.e., don’t make them fill out forms)
- Sends reminders before their discharge date reminding them when they need to follow up at home after leaving the hospital
These tips can help you get the lowest hospital readmission rate possible.
Readmission rates are a big deal. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which oversees Medicare and Medicaid, is using readmission rates to determine how much they will pay out to hospitals in the coming years—and it’s not an insignificant amount: CMS estimates that reducing the average length of stay by one day would save more than $21 billion over 10 years.
To get the lowest hospital readmission rate possible, you need to be mindful of these things:
- Your patient’s discharge plan needs to be clear and well-documented. This means having a detailed plan with specific instructions for home care as well as follow-up appointments set up with specialists or other providers in case complications arise during your patient’s recovery period. You should also make sure your patient has access to transportation or any other resources needed for them to follow through on their discharge plan once they leave the hospital’s care.
- Be proactive about helping patients manage their health after leaving the hospital or clinic setting—this includes following up with them regularly; checking in on them via telephone calls; making sure they fill prescriptions as prescribed; and providing information regarding resources available within their community such as support groups or food pantries if needed. It also means being aware of potential warning signs like changes in pain levels, mood swings, physical symptoms such as fever/chills etc., so you can quickly refer them back into your practice if necessary before things get worse!
- Stay informed about best practices when it comes to treating different conditions because there may be new treatments available now that weren’t previously available when this article was written! For example: The American Congress Of Obstetricians And Gynecologists’ updated guidelines recommend postpartum depression screening at 6 weeks postpartum instead of 8 weeks like originally recommended due increased awareness about how serious this condition can be for both parents involved.”
In this article, we’ve discussed the importance of reducing hospital readmissions, as well as some ways that hospitals can do so. This is an important topic that affects millions of patients every year and can ultimately save lives. If you want to learn more about reducing readmissions or improving care quality overall, reach out for a demo today.