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How Hospital Quality Drives Readmission Rates

Hospital readmissions have become a hot topic in recent years, as medical facilities and healthcare practitioners seek to find ways to drive down costs and improve the quality of patient care in order to reduce readmission rates. This is due in no small part to the introduction of the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP), a federally mandated initiative launched in 2012 that imposes certain financial penalties on hospitals for the purpose of curtailing excess readmissions.

The program was designed to serve as a quality assurance measure for hospitals, as readmission rates have long been thought to be a reflection of various aspects of patient care (e.g., discharge assessment, patient follow-up, etc.).  

Recent analysis of data published by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) tends to confirm this notion, as new research suggests a correlation between hospital quality and readmission rates. According to a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine involving more than 4,200 hospitals, facilities that ranked in the top performance quartile for quality demonstrated significantly lower readmission rates than those that ranked in the lowest quartile.

The study also demonstrated that readmission rates among patients admitted into low-performance hospitals was consistently higher than that of those who were admitted to high-performance hospitals. Patient-related factors were intentionally excluded from the analysis, as the primary focus of the study was to measure hospital performance.

Improving the Quality of Hospital Care to Lower Readmission Rates

Since the NEJM study suggests that readmission rates are influenced by hospital quality independently of patient-centered factors, it only makes sense for hospitals to consider assessing the organizational factors that may be contributing to lower quality outcomes.

Fortunately, there are a number of key touch points in which it may be possible for your hospital to improve the quality of patient care both during and after the hospital visit. Look for a robust, highly configurable software solution, such as PatientBond, that will enable you to automate many of the key activities that foster improved patient care, including:

  • Post-Discharge Communications: These enable you to create and send a series of customized instructional communications via text or email to assist patients during their recovery transition. Communications can include click-and-submit surveys that offer recovery-related questions, as well as links to additional information and relevant educational resources.

  • Automated Appointment Reminders: These can help hospitals alleviate one of the most notorious consumers of administrative hours by automating the appointment reminder process. This can help hospitals reduce lost revenue due to missed appointments, along with providing patients with more efficient, personalized care.

  • Medication Adherence Solutions: A study published by the National Institutes of Health named low medication adherence as a key risk factor in predicting 30-day hospital readmissions. Hospitals that use PatientBond can send automated follow-up communications to remind patients to refill their prescription medications, along with providing ongoing educational content regarding how to manage their health condition in light of their medication regimen. This high-touch solution can strengthen medication adherence through personalized communications that always arrive right on schedule.

  • Ongoing Wellness Education: Carry your patient care beyond the walls of your facility by providing ongoing wellness education and health management resources. Through PatientBond's automated platform, for example, hospitals can send relevant educational content to patients to help them enhance their well-being through informed management of their health condition. In addition, PatientBond can send scheduled communications to remind patients to follow through with pertinent check-ups and preventive screenings.

Using Psychographics to Help Reduce Hospital Readmissions

By segmenting people based on key psychological factors such as attitudes, lifestyles, values, beliefs and personalities, you can truly treat your patients as individuals by tailoring your communications to fit their respective psychographic profiles. When a patient recognizes that you're “speaking their language,” it increases the likelihood of a positive response. That’s why the PatientBond platform uses a proprietary psychographic segmentation model to provide highly personalized care for patients and motivate behavior change.

It’s clear that patient engagement platforms can play a key role in reducing hospital readmissions through improving the quality and efficiency of patient care. Choose your solution wisely, and you’ll be well on your way toward lowering readmission rates and improving hospital quality.

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