There are many different reasons why hospital readmissions occur, including incomplete discharge planning, a lack of follow-up, or a patient having difficulty adhering to medication regimens after leaving the hospital.
When you take a close look at these various reasons, there is one constant underlying factor: communication.
The Role of Communication in Readmission
According to a post in the Harvard Business Review, it is the communication between caregivers and patients that has the biggest impact on reducing hospital readmission rates. A lack of or ineffective communication with patients, family members and post-care facilities following discharge can result in confusion and put patient adherence at risk.
Excellent communication to reduce hospital readmission rates is pivotal to boosting patient safety and reducing the chance of a trip back to the hospital. Sadly, effective communication is hard to come by. A study found in the Journal of Hospital Medicine found that direct communication between hospitals to primary care physicians occurred only a shocking 3 to 20 percent of the time at discharge. Breaking down any communication barriers between hospitals and physicians and improving discharge summaries is vital. If treatment plans are not communicated properly to team members and to that patient, many problems may arise.
Communication During the Discharge Process
One of the most common communication problems leading to hospital readmissions is a patient’s lack of understanding in which medications to take and when. Not one patient is exactly alike. Tailor discharge instructions to be truly useful to each patient and customized just for them. Learn about the patient and find out what will help them specifically remember to take the correct medication at the right time to avoid a trip back to the hospital. For some, it may help to have instructions written clearly, while for other patients they may prefer to have a family member or friend remind them. When you identify specific actions that will help your patients to manage their health after discharge, the likelihood of patient adherence, improved health and readmission prevention will increase. Recording each hospital visit will help ensure effective communication and positive patient adherence since they are able to recall more important information and instructions when they are able to rewatch the visit. Medical Memory helps patients understand more about their condition and comply with important instructions and their loved ones gain valuable insight by experiencing private, secure video of the patient visit.
So there you have it – an improvement in communication has the potential to significantly reduce readmission rates. You can make an impact by perfecting your communication skills and the skills of your team and creating processes that allow for simple and quick communication.
Always keep in mind that communication doesn’t simply end with discharge. Here are 5 of the most effective strategies to reduce hospital readmission rates and ultimately improve your bottom line.
Dr. Gregory Sanders is a Harvard-trained, practicing cardiologist and founder and CEO of HybridChart. He has been coding since the 1980s and has spent his medical career focusing on improving processes. His patient care skills earned him recognition as one of Phoenix Magazine’s TOP DOCs. He lives in Scottsdale with his family.