Healthcare News & Insights

Study: Marginalized groups at greater risk for readmission, ED visits

Once patients leave your hospital, you know all too well that it doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t return to your facility. When patients are discharged and moved to home health care, for example, there’s always a chance they’ll be readmitted or visit the emergency department (ED). 

And the likelihood of that happening increases significantly when a patient isn’t white.

A new study from the University of Missouri published in the Journal of Applied Gerontology found that when it comes to older adults receiving home health care after a hospitalization, racial and ethnic minority groups may be at greater risk of readmission and ED visits than white patients.

Readmission rates

The study looked at Medicare recipients older than 65 in New York, all of whom had been hospitalized prior to receiving home healthcare.

African-Americans have the highest risk of returning to the hospital, being 45% more likely to visit the ED and 34% more likely to be readmitted. Additionally, Hispanic patients were 26% more likely to visit the ED than non-Hispanic white people.

While there was some variation due to certain individual factors, like the severity of the condition, those issues only accounted for 4% of the disparity.

Patients who belong to marginalized groups often don’t receive the same quality of care as those in nonmarginalized groups, and older adults receiving home health care are no different. This study doesn’t specifically investigate the reasons for the disparities in care, but it’s possibly due to fewer types of home care being offered to minority patients.

Improving all care

You may not be able to control what kind of care patients are receiving once they leave your hospital, but there are some options to help improve the care a patient receives throughout the continuum of care.

Making an effort to improve communication between all of a patient’s providers, including primary care doctors and home health specialists, can smooth the way for patients who are no longer staying in your facility.

Most of this can be accomplished with widespread use of electronic health record (EHR) systems and integration of EHRs into patient care (although there are other pitfalls that come with EHR use).

Encourage your providers to keep track of older patients who may be receiving home care down the line, so you’ll be prepared if they’re readmitted. If this is too tall an order for providers with heavy workloads, see if your EHR has a way to track this information.

And above all, continue creating a positive culture that welcomes patients of all backgrounds – everyone deserves to be comfortable when receiving care.

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