Healthcare News & Insights

Mayo Clinic finds proactive aftercare will slash patient readmissions

With federal payors docking payments to hospitals for early readmissions, researchers at the Mayo Clinic found aggressive aftercare strategies can slash patient re-hospitalization rates by 20%.

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As a healthcare professional, you know that workable strategies to cut readmission rates and improve patient aftercare will help boost your patient satisfaction scores and save you money.

With one in five Medicare beneficiaries being readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of discharge, healthcare facilities can be fined 2% of their reimbursement by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). CMS will up the fine in 2015 by levying a 3% readmissions penalty.

Seamless transition

To ensure a seamless handoff from inpatient to outpatient care, effective discharge programs must employ a hands-on, multi-faceted approach, according to a Mayo Clinic review, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, Aaron Leppin, MD, who headed up the Mayo study, said reducing early admissions is a top priority aimed at improving quality of care and lowering costs.

Upon discharge, patients should be partnered with a host of support services, the study reports, such as regularly scheduled in-home visits to make sure patients take their medications and show-up for medical appointments.

After reviewing 47 admission-reduction strategies, the Mayo team discovered that re-hospitalizations can be reduced by as much as 40%.

Complicated instructions

Readmission rates can skyrocket when a patient is sent home with discharge instructions that aren’t only complicated, but confusing, the Mayo study found. New drug regimens and lack of medical and family support systems, as well as financial resources can all factor into high readmissions rates.

“They go home with a list of tasks that include what they were doing prior to the hospitalization and new self-care tasks prescribed on discharge,” Dr. Leppin said.  “They are sent home with tasks that they can’t handle. It’s not uncommon for them to be readmitted soon after they get home. Sometimes these readmissions can be prevented.”

The Mayo study also said hospitals which have adopted “high-tech and simpler” after-care strategies have proven to be much less effective in keeping people out of the hospital. Although Medicare keeps track of all hospital readmissions, this year it is only penalizing hospitals for re-hospitalizations due to heart attack, congestive heart failure and pneumonia. Next year, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) and hip and joint replacement will be factored into readmission penalties.

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