Hospitals should add patient activation to their list of readmission reduction strategies, suggests a new study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine that found patients possessing a high degree of knowledge, skills and confidence in self-managing their care were less likely to return to the hospital within 30 days.
Boston Medical Center physicians looked at data for 695 patients and concluded that the risk of 30-day readmission was almost twice as high for patients with low activation levels than for their higher-activated counterparts.
Low-activated patients also had a higher rate of emergency department visits within 30 days of discharge than highly activated patients.
"These results reinforce a recent emphasis on targeted patient education during hospitalization," lead author Suzanne Mitchell, M.D., a family medicine physician at BMC, said according to an announcement.
When analyzing the patients in four levels of activation--with level three as the lowest activation and level four as the highest activation--the physicians found no statistical difference in post-discharge hospital use between patients at level three and level four.
The BMC study builds on previous research showing that patients with high activation levels have better outcomes and lower healthcare costs. According to research published in the February issue of Health Affairs, activated patients are more likely to engage in healthy behavior and use health information, compared to less activated patients.
To engage patients in their own healthcare, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality recommends hospitals form patient-family advisory councils, improve front-line communication, explain bedside shift reports, and involve the family and patient in discharge planning, FierceHealthcare previously reported.
Hospitals also can consider patients' Internet use when deciding how much to involve patients in medical decision-making, given patients who use the Internet more frequently are more likely to embrace patient-centered healthcare efforts and participate in their own care, according to a July study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.