Patient Education Cuts Hospital Readmits by 1/3

Thursday, February 5th, 2009
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

AHRQ finds that educating patients before they leave the hospital reduces readmissions, ED visits and saves money.

From the AHRQ study:

Patients who have a clear understanding of their after-hospital care instructions, including how to take their medicines and when to make follow-up appointments, are 30 percent less likely to be readmitted or visit the emergency department than patients who lack this information.

This backs up what we learned from a recent HIN survey on strategies to reduce hospital readmissions — that provider partnerships, education and communication do keep patients out of the ED and the hospital. Most of the survey’s 200 respondents believe that coordinated planning of a patient’s care following a hospital or nursing home stay can greatly impact health outcomes, likelihood of readmission and/or emergency room visits, as well as cost to patients, providers and insurers.

Some key HIN survey results:

  • Nearly 76 percent of respondents say readmission reduction attempts are first aimed at the seriously ill and/or those with multiple comorbidities. Patients with caregivers are given priority by nearly 50 percent of respondents, and those suffering from dementia targeted by 26 percent.
  • Of 54 hospital survey respondents, slightly fewer than 70 percent are actively working to improve their ratings in this area. Half of remaining hospitals say they will address this in the year ahead.
  • Nearly 60 percent say they see a reduction in readmissions, with just under 10 percent saying there’s no change in rates and 32 percent saying their efforts are too new.
  • Eighty-four percent provide departing patients with improved discharge instructions.
  • Almost 60 percent schedule follow-up visits.
  • Forty-eight percent offer telephonic support.
  • Other ideas: Home Visits, Fall prevention programs; Relationships with post-primary providers; Increased home health referrals; Home health monitoring; Partner with providers to ensure follow-up visits; Case management review of readmission stats by physician, diagnosis, etc. Incorporating prevention at the public health level.
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