Patient compliance.  It can be one of the most challenging aspects for any practice or hospital.  Effective discharge planning is critical to patient compliance and in turn patient care and outcomes.  

Better care promises to reduce readmission rates and improve patients’ lives while at the same time reducing healthcare costs.  When patients are engaged in their health care, it can lead to stronger engagement and measurable improvements in ongoing patient safety and quality of post-hospital care.  

Here’s your discharge planning checklist to improve patient compliance post-discharge and help to prevent readmissions.  

Don’t be too hasty.  Everyone wants to leave the hospital STAT.  But that doesn’t mean the discharge process should be rushed.  Have you heard the phrase ‘haste makes waste’? Discharge is an extremely important step in the overall recovery of the patient so be sure to use the same amount of attention as any other medical decisions.  

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Discuss.  Include the patient and their family or friends in the entire discharge planning process.  Discuss with them clearly and concisely these five key areas to prevent any future problems from arising at home:

  • Go over all medications and review with them to make sure they fully understand how to take them and when
  • Explain any potential warning signs or problems with their condition
  • Explain test results
  • Describe what their life at home will be like and what they need to be responsible for
  • Schedule follow-up appointments


Educate.  Use plain, easy to understand language about the patient’s condition, their discharge process and the next steps.  This will help to improve the likelihood of positive patient outcomes.  Master the role of patient educator with these helpful tips.  


Listen.  Really listen to the patient’s and family’s goals, observations and concerns.  Answer clearly and make sure they have all the answers they need and you’ve addressed any post-care barriers or challenges that may arise.  Request that they repeat back some of their discharge details to ensure they fully understand.  


Have a fluid follow-up process.  To ensure your patient gets the treatment they need, it is important to have a seamless follow-up process.  With HybridChart’s intuitive discharge management system, rescheduling patients for follow up and communicating with all providers in the patient’s care is simple. Now your patients can receive timely follow up visits. Scheduling staff back at the office are able to easily participate in scheduling follow up visits for discharged patients.

Effective hospital discharge is an important step in the patients’ overall recovery.  This discharge planning checklist will ensure a smooth and seamless discharge.  

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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.