Simple, improved discharge care cuts readmissions

Following recent data that discharge instructions boost patient satisfaction comes proof that improved discharge care can reduce hospitals' readmission rates.

Thanks to an initiative that centered on educating and following up with patients after they leave the hospital, Charleston Area Medical Center (CAMC) has seen readmission rates of heart failure and pneumonia patients plummet, reports the Daily Mail.

In April and May of this year, 10.64 percent of heart failure patients were readmitted to the West Virginia hospital within 30 days of discharge, down from 24.54 percent in the first quarter, according to CAMC Chief Quality Officer Dale Wood, the article notes.

Moreover, the hospital readmitted 4.4 percent pneumonia patients in April and May, a significant drop from the 11.11 percent readmitted in the first quarter.

Wood credits the success to simplifying discharge instructions; giving patients handouts with important reminders, such as taking their medications, visiting their doctor within 14 days of their discharge, monitoring their weight; and making follow-up calls to patients with a simple phone survey.

As hospitals look to cut avoidable hospitalizations and associated costs, more institutions are starting to amend their discharge processes. For example, the Colorado Hospital Association and UnitedHealthcare yesterday launched a two-year initiative designed to improve patient knowledge about their follow-up care, reports 9 News.

Sixteen participating healthcare facilities are developing safeguards and other protocols after they release patients from the hospital, Dr. Christopher Stanley, the senior medical director of UnitedHealthcare of the Rocky Mountain Region, told 9 News. Those protocols include education on how to take prescribed medicines and when to make follow-up appointments with doctors.

Stanley hopes the improved discharge process will empower patients to take a more active role in staying healthy once they're home, reducing the likelihood of complications or adverse events after discharge, and ultimately hospital readmissions.

For more:
- read the Daily Mail article
- read the Spokane Journal of Business article
- here's the 9 News article