Study: Social work interventions reduce readmission rates by half

Social work intervention can help hospitals lower readmissions by more than half, according to a two-year study of 100 patients at high risk of readmission.

Researchers from Binghamton University's College of Community and Public Affairs and SUNY Upstate Medical University studied an interdisciplinary training program in which social workers assess patients' home environments, check on medication adherence and ensure patients follow up with their primary care physicians, according to the research announcement.

Patients receiving social work intervention had a 7 percent readmission rate, compared to a 15 percent readmission rate for the control group--patients discharged during the same period and meeting the same criteria.

 "A social worker can create savings equal to his own salary and benefits just by preventing seven readmissions a year--and the patient's quality of life is improved significantly in the process," Shawn Berkowitz, medical director of the study, said in the statement.

The study adds to research showing integrating health and social services can lead to significant savings for hospitals.

Last fall, a U.K. project found that investing in social work allows hospitals to speed up patient assessments and therefore reduce delayed discharges. While the number of completed monthly social care assessments rose from 59 to 143 at Whiston Hospital, delayed discharges from acute beds dropped by 17 percent, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

As team-based care continues to gain traction across U.S. hospitals, more social workers will join multidisciplinary care teams, along with registered nurses, physicians, pharmacists, nutritionists/dieticians and physical therapists.

For more:
- here's the announcement