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