Researchers have identified six steps hospital staff can do to help heart failure patients avoid readmittance to the hospital within 30 days after they’re discharged, according to research in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.
While each step alone has had some impact on patients’ recovery, researchers found that if all six recommendations were followed, readmissions could drop as much as two percent. This translates to a savings of more than $100 million a year, researchers note.
Heart failure hospital readmissions are common and a major contributor to rising healthcare costs. The six most effective steps to cutting readmissions are as follows:
- Forming partnerships with community doctors to address readmission issues.
- Collaborating with other hospitals to develop consistent strategies for reducing readmission.
- Instructing nurses to supervise the coordination of medication plans.
- Scheduling follow-up appointments before patients leave the hospital.
- Developing systems to forward discharge information to the patient’s primary care doctor.
- Contacting patients on all test results received after they are discharged.
Researchers analyzed nearly 600 hospital surveys, given between November 2010 and May 2011, from two nationwide programs aimed at reducing hospital readmissions for heart failure. Less than 30 percent of the hospitals followed most of the steps, and only seven percent used all six.
Source: The Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC), July 11, 2013
2012 Healthcare Benchmarks: Reducing Hospital Readmission identifies the key strategies, challenges, target populations and health conditions of 119 healthcare organizations to reduce avoidable rehospitalizations, providing critical benchmarks that show how the industry is working to reduce rehospitalizations, particularly for the CMS target conditions of heart failure, myocardial infarction and pneumonia.