Hospitals want to prevent discharged patients from getting caught in the revolving door. Patients are happy to stay away from hospitals as much as possible. Hospitals face financial penalties for excessive readmissions. Even so, many people with challenging health conditions leave the hospital only to reappear in the emergency room, sicker than ever. Some readmissions are unavoidable, but others are preventable.
#1 Rapid Follow-Up
Congestive heart failure is one of the highest-risk diagnoses for early hospital readmission. Heart failure patients who see a doctor for a clinic appointment soon after discharge – or receive a follow-up phone call from a nurse or pharmacist within the health care system – are less likely to be re-hospitalized. Timing of follow-up matters, it should be done within seven days of hospital discharge.
#2 Empathy Training
Clinicians trained in empathy skills may better relate to and communicate with patients getting ready for discharge. Encouraging two-way discussions instead of one-way lectures may help patients reveal their expectations, worries and potential barriers to keeping up with the treatment plan at home. When doctors seem unhurried and offer their undivided attention, patients are more willing to open up.
#3 Treating The Whole Patient
Comorbid conditions” is a fancy way of saying a patient has more than one health problem. Patients are more than just their “main” condition, such as heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. When a patient has both diabetes and heart disease, for example, catching and treating symptoms of either condition early may stave off a trip to the emergency room.
#4 Navigator Teams
Bewildered patients who leave the hospital overwhelmed by lengthy medication lists and overtasked with multiple outpatient appointments may be ripe for another admission. A patient navigator team, consisting of a nurse and pharmacist, may help reduce hospital readmissions for heart failure.
#5 Empowered Patients
The transition from hospital to home represents a critical juncture for patients. Understanding the care plan at the time of discharge – medications to be taken, physical therapy requirements and follow-up appointments with outpatient physicians – is really important. Patients don’t want to be readmitted, either, they can take an active role in coordinating their care.