Best practices to reduce costly readmissions

Reducing preventable readmissions is one of the most important aspects of cutting healthcare costs, according to an American Society for Quality survey of health quality improvement experts.

As Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services imposes financial penalties on hospitals with high readmission rates, Gallup Business Journal identified four ways hospitals can reduce readmissions and improve outcomes, in turn saving money and reducing financial penalties:

  1. Involve the patient's social network, family and friends. Encourage the patient's support network to listen to discharge instructions as well, and make sure they understand the patient's care needs and share ownership of those needs. For patients without a strong support network, hospitals must coordinate follow-up appointments, help arrange transportation and coordinate home support to reduce likelihood of readmissions.

  2. Streamline the discharge process. Encourage effective communication between doctors and nurses when coordinating a patient's discharge, and emphasize the most crucial information to the patient. Align with other providers, such as nursing homes, especially when it comes to high-risk patients.

  3. Get to know the patients. Improve patient understanding by assessing the patient's ability to understand health information and make informed decisions, then determine the best way to provide that information. Take into considering their tech savvy, and use a medium they'll comprehend.

  4. Build a comprehensive discharge team. Pick patient navigators who excel at assisting patients through post-discharge care--high-performers who will increase productivity and safety. Nurses who are recommended for the role often perform better than those who are not recommended, Gallup found.

Hospitals can also try a team-based approach to care. Readmissions could drop as much as 20 percent if community pharmacists work with high-risk patients after discharge on counseling and medication management, FierceHealthcare previously reported. 

To learn more:
- read the ASQ announcement
- here's the Gallup article