19 Aug How to Reduce Readmissions: An International Challenge
Post written by Phillip Kersten
At the World Congress 6th Annual Leadership Summit on Hospital Readmissions Matthew Moore represented the Mayo Clinic’s Center for Innovation (CFI) in a discussion of the ongoing development of strategies to effectively carry out transitions in patient care and to strengthen collaboration among communities of healthcare providers. This summit is one of latest additions to a growing movement focused on reducing hospital readmissions. Motives for pursuing the success of this movement are not difficult to find. For one, it is simply cheaper (for both the patient and the provider) to avoid the added cost of a patient returning to a hospital. Also, ensuring patients are successfully treated the first time they go through a hospital reduces risks and liabilities to that hospital and its staff. Finally, and most relevantly, improving the management of patients that could result in cases of readmission is in the best interest of the patient’s health: it is just the right thing to do.
Since healthcare is a complicated industry in all aspects, a large array of approaches are being taken to reduce readmissions. On the home-front, innovations for out-patient paperwork and procedure are hoped to smooth the process of people returning home from the hospital, while still being informed about their ailment. Moore described the current proceedings as overwhelming for patients. Patient feedback indicates they are showered in too much information before leaving the hospital. In addition, when these people get home the paperwork they had received only hours ago often seems incomprehensible and unhelpful. Moore and others hope to streamline patient paperwork, producing individualized forms for patients. The main premise behind this, according to Moore, is to better manage the first 48 hours a patient spends outside of the hospital by providing them with specific, straightforward goals and important details for them to know going forward.
Innovations such as this may benefit all patients treated in a hospital; however, it is the large body of medium-risk patients that has most room for improvement. Simple changes to the current formula stand to make significant differences for these patients. Developing physicians’ tools to make better recommendations for post-acute care centers and helping facilitate home-based care for chronic patients are other avenues of progress being paved.
Regardless of what innovations are being implemented at the moment, the wind is blowing strongly in the direction of reduced readmissions. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has already started financially penalizing hospitals for having to readmit patients. By as soon as 2017, individual physicians across the nation will also face costs from the CMS for above average rates of readmission. As financial incentives push harder on hospitals and physicians, it is likely that innovations, such as Moore’s, will become increasingly relevant and sought after in the fight to reduce readmissions.