Although the push to decrease readmissions at hospitals is nothing new, the fines and new rules are. To give just one example, Medicare is pushing to reduce readmissions by 20%, imposing penalties on hospitals with higher-than-average readmissions rate.
As the New York Times is reporting, hospitals are scrambling to figure out ways to reduce readmissions. Among these efforts are Boston Unversity's Project RED, initiatives at the Mayo Clinic, and an extensive study at Dartmouth.
Each project gets at the complexity of decreasing readmissions in different ways, but there are some common threads. For instance, in Project RED's itemized list of common causes of unnecessary readmissions, about half of the causes related to poor communication with patients and the other half is related to poor coordination and collaboration among healthcare providers (including coordinating upcoming visits, labs, etc.)
These studies and initiatives found that medical collaboration can decrease readmissions for 3 surprising reasons:
- The right at-home care actually happens. When medical collaboration happens, that means that healthcare providers across and within organizations actually communicate. For instance, ClickCare allows the home-care nurse to coordinate with the specialist before discharge, as well as when problems come up during the care. A quick exchange about a wound -- as long as the proper at-home care is arranged and understood -- may be all it takes to prevent a readmission.
- The patient gets to their follow-up appointment easily and quickly. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for patients to know who to make an appointment with and understand whether that follow-up is urgent. Medical collaboration tools allow the responsible providers to facilitate next steps and make sure that the next visit isn't to the ER.
- Providers know who is responsible for the patient. Throughout all the literature, coordination of care was repeatedly cited as a key influencer in readmissions rates. When patients and providers don't know who the people "in charge" are, the systems start to break down. Further, the current communications systems (paging, EHRs, etc) don't actually facilitate the communication that would clarify this. So successful providers coordinate care through a medical collaboration tool like ClickCare, avoiding problems before they happen.
We believe that medical collaboration is one of the most important components of decreasing readmissions. So we're offering free trials of iClickCare for providers or hospitals that want to experiment with going this route.
Join providers nationwide using a simple technology to make discharge a more human experience: