Lower Readmissions for Hospitals with Good Nursing Work Environment

Monday, January 14th, 2013
This post was written by Cheryl Miller

No one could argue that nurses do more than their fair share of work. But now a new study is documenting that work environments that are beneficial for nurses are also beneficial for hospitals in terms of readmissions rates.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing found that Medicare patients treated in hospitals with a good work environment for nurses had up to 10 percent lower odds of readmission than those treated in hospitals with a poor work environment.

Researchers suggest that improving nurses’ work environment and reducing their workloads are organization-wide reforms that could result in fewer readmissions. All hospitalized patients are exposed to bedside nursing throughout their stay and combining targeted transitional care, the coordination of healthcare during the transition from hospital to home, with high-quality inpatient nursing care will produce more positive outcomes for all patients, and help reduce overall healthcare costs. Preventable hospital readmissions cost the United States more than $15 billion annually, and Medicare is now penalizing hospitals with excessive rates of readmissions.

This study parallels another recent news story documenting nurses/case managers’ role in reducing readmissions by dispensing phone calls within 48 hours of discharge to high risk patients. The study, from Cigna, followed nearly 4,000 high-risk gastrointestinal, heart and lower respiratory patients and found that prioritized, telephonic outreach by health plan case managers after hospital discharge reduced future readmissions by 22 percent. This subject is currently a hot topic on our new LinkedIn forum, CaseTalk – a Forum for Care Coordinators. You can join in the discussion group here.

How to find the right nurse/case manager? Robert Fortini, vice president and chief clinical officer of Bon Secours Health System, tells us that they should posess both creativity and critical thinking skills, in our story excerpted from our new book, Profiting from Population Health Management: Applying Analytics in Accountable Care. Bon Secours’ nurse navigator program was so successful that they were planning on doubling their budget for them within 18 months.

And in other news, the increased use of EMRs and other related tools have failed to fulfill the financial promise of HIT, according to a new RAND Corporation analysis. One of the major reasons is that systems deployed are neither interconnected nor easy to use. Some changes to reverse this are documented in our story.

And don’t forget to take our new survey on Medication Adherence.

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