Closing Healthcare Gaps

Monday, May 10th, 2010
This post was written by Patricia Donovan

Improperly managed, the transition between leaving the hospital and returning home can turn into a dangerous care and communication void, particularly for patients with heart failure. A featured study this week from Duke University found that most hospitals have no formal follow-up procedures for these patients, with only about 40 percent seeing a healthcare provider within seven days of discharge.

Susan Shepard, director of patient safety education at The Doctors Company, shared a story during last month’s webinar on coordinated discharge planning: The CMO of a large health system was hospitalized because of an emergency surgical procedure. While he was delighted with the care he received, he said that the biggest surprise was that when he went home, he felt alone, fearful, uninformed and disconnected. He had received no real education on how to take care of himself, had no way to reach out for that information and had no guidance or coordination of care.

Aetna’s care transitions initiative, described in this week’s issue of the Healthcare Business Weekly Update, is attempting to close care gaps for its Medicare patients. Our chart of the week on Home Visit Tasks, developed from our 2009 Care Transitions survey, illustrates other ways to put recently discharged patients on the path to self-management.

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