A recent University of California San Francisco (UCSF) study published in JAMA Internal Medicine reports that over one quarter of all 30-day hospital readmissions are preventable. The study, which looked at 1007 patients in 12 academic medical centers, found that poor communication, inadequate coordination of care, and insufficient post-discharge resources were major contributing factors to the readmissions problem.

Emergency department admissions were also a focus of the study. “One key finding is that 31 percent of readmissions could have been avoided if emergency departments had not admitted patients who did not need to be in the hospital,” said lead author Dr. Andrew Auerbach in a statement published by UCSF. Auerbach and colleagues also cited the following factors as critical to reducing avoidable 30-day readmissions:

  • Establishing care goals for patients with serious illnesses, and involving the patient in the goal setting.
  • Making sure patients have a clear understanding of who to contact after discharge should problems arise.
  • Coordinating follow up appointments with both patients and primary care doctors, and ensuring patients have a way to get to appointments.
  • Improving communication between hospital staff and health care professionals serving the patient outside of the hospital.

Educating your hospital inpatients before their transition home is an important part of helping them understand care goals. The Patient Channel and The HeartCare Channel offer engaging programming on heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), knee and hip replacement, and heart attack post-discharge care. These can be powerful tools in your efforts to reduce 30-day readmissions rates and consequent Medicare payment penalties.

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