Six strategies can reduce heart failure readmissions and save millions

Six strategies are all that stand in the way of reducing heart failure readmissions and the potential to save hundreds of millions of dollars, according to a new study published online in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

The study, "Hospital Strategies Associated with 30-Day Readmission Rates for Patients with Heart Failure," looked at the data from a web-based survey of 599 hospitals participating in national quality initiatives to reduce readmissions.

The findings reveal that individual strategies show a modest reduction (less than half a percent point) in the readmission rates, but hospitals that implemented more or all reduction strategies significantly lowered risk-standardized 30-day readmission rates (0.34 percentage point for each additional strategy).

"If all six strategies are followed, readmissions would drop by about 2%, which would result in a savings of more than $100 million," lead author Elizabeth Bradley, Ph.D, of Yale University told MedPage Today.

The message, Bradley told MedPage Today is that reducing readmission rates is a systems problem. "It is not something one physician or one nurse can do. It requires engagement of a full clinical discharge team, excellent practices of follow-up and full engagement with the patient and family," she said.

The strategies are:

  • Partnering with community physicians and physician groups
  • Partnering with local hospitals
  • Giving nurses the responsibility of medication reconciliation
  • Arranging for follow-up visits before discharge
  • Setting up a process to send all discharge or electronic summaries directly to the patient's primary care physician
  • Assigning staff to follow up on test results after the patient is discharged

To learn more:
- here's the study
- read the MedPage Today article