Hospital Follow-Up Calls to Patients Improve Clinical Outcomes and Satisfaction

DALLAS, March 7, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- A recent study shows that post-discharge calls to patients help reduce 30-day readmissions and improve patient satisfaction. The yearlong study, conducted by Beryl, a technology-focused patient experience services company dedicated to improving relationships between healthcare providers and consumers, included data from four hospitals using Beryl's Post-Discharge Services to provide follow-up calls and monitor results.

Findings from the study indicate that 30-day patient readmission rates can be markedly lower for patients receiving follow-up calls after discharge. In one instance, a participating hospital's readmission rates for patients who received a post-discharge call were 1.3 percent, compared with 3.19 percent for patients who did not receive a call.  Another hospital's data showed 30-day readmission rates of 4.19 percent for patients who received a post-discharge call, compared to 5.16 percent for patients who did not receive a call.

Data from the study also showed improvements in the industry-standard Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) scores, a leading indicator of patient satisfaction, when patients received follow-up calls. In one hospital, HCAHPS scores for their "Overall Rating" increased by 12 percentage points, up from 75.9 percent to 87.9 percent. The same facility saw the "Would You Recommend" response increase by more than 26 percentage points, from 49.2 percent to 75.4 percent.

Another hospital in the study saw increases in HCAHPS scores across multiple departments, improving in 14 out of 17 categories. Additionally, their composite percentage rank increased from 72 without post-discharge calls to 87 with the patient follow-up calls.

Participants in the study used Beryl to conduct patient post-discharge calls, which are placed 24 to 72 hours after patients are discharged from the hospital for inpatient or outpatient care. The callers, all trained Patient Experience Advocates, asked the patients a set of scripted questions, including asking if the patient understood medical instructions that were provided before leaving the hospital, if recommended follow-up appointments had been scheduled and if they were satisfied with the care received while at the hospital.

In addition to the responses to scripted questions, calls included unprompted feedback from patients related to issues not directly tied to care delivery, such as housekeeping, room temperature and friendliness of the staff.

"Capturing data at this point in the patient experience is critical for the hospital to understand patient perceptions, the effectiveness of communications and areas of improvement," said Cynthia Hanna, RN, clinical director for Beryl. "The advanced analytics we deliver, such as trend reports, provide robust information for our clients to take actionable steps for operational improvements, which ultimately result in better patient outcomes."

Hanna also said that post-discharge calls will likely have an impact of reimbursements by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Hanna said, "Medicare penalties begin in 2013 for hospitals with high patient readmission rates, so the impact of placing follow-up patient calls will certainly have financial implications for the hospital."

About The Beryl Companies

The Beryl Companies is comprised of four businesses; two that focus on improving the patient experience in a variety of healthcare settings, and two that focus on improving workplace culture and values-based business productivity.  The Beryl Companies sees these activities and concepts as intrinsically linked.  The Beryl Companies' foundational business, Beryl, is a technology-focused patient experience services company dedicated to improving relationships between healthcare providers and consumers.  Founded in 2006, The Beryl Institute is a research and educational entity that publishes information about improving the patient experience and how that activity links to better financial outcomes for healthcare providers.  Founded in 2009, The Circle is a training company that helps other businesses enhance employee engagement and develop more positive workplace cultures.  The last firm, The Small Giants Community, is a global organization that brings together leaders who are focused on values-based business principles.