How Nurses Can Help Reduce Hospital Readmissions
Think of nurses as the first line of defense against hospital readmission. With the proper knowledge, skills, and tools, these valuable members of your healthcare staff can dramatically reduce hospital readmission rates, but only if they have access to everything they need. Unfortunately, that doesn't always happen.
Unfamiliarity with nurses’ role in the reduction of hospital readmissions can result in process inefficiencies and a lack of tools needed to reduce readmission rates. Taking the time to learn the role nurses play in preventing readmissions can help hospital administrators make sure their organizations are equipped with the right tools and resources.
Looking Closer at How Nurses Can Help Reduce Hospital Readmissions
Nurses can dramatically reduce hospital readmissions several different ways. Some of the following are examples, according to a study published in the Annual Review of Medicine, of ways hospitals reduced 30-day readmissions:
- Providing telephone follow-up with patients that included reviewing discharge instructions and verifying if follow-up appointments were scheduled
- Providing patients with access to educational services that can help them learn how to properly manage their condition and prevent illnesses
- Identify a patient's personality to best determine how to improve compliance with discharge instructions. Identifying the patient personality allows nurses and the healthcare team to deliver information in a way that enhances patient response
- Help patients find a PCP for those that do not have one already
- Assess a patient's needs and provide easy access to resources that can help meet those needs
- Schedule timely follow-up appointments with specialists and PCPs
- Manage medications for patients and educate on proper scheduling of medication
- Enhance communications with patients so the healthcare team can identify if further care is needed to avoid readmission
- Provide patient training to avoid common illnesses that often lead to hospital readmission after a previous hospital stay
The examples provided for how nurses can help reduce hospital readmissions can be used for any illness that required hospitalization. However, consistent application of these strategies to reduce hospital readmissions has proven successful in helping patients with certain medical conditions — such as pneumonia, heart failure, and pulmonary disease.
Tackling the Issue of High Hospital Readmission Rates
High hospital readmission rates are a very real issue for healthcare administrators. In a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine, it was discovered that approximately 20 percent of Medicare or Medicaid patients are readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of discharge and almost 40 percent of them are readmitted within 90 days.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to enable nurses to reduce patient readmissions. For example, nurses working with PatientBond have been proven to reduce hospital readmission rates.
PatientBond, a cloud-based platform, automates digital communications (emails, text messages, Interactive Voice Response) between patients and healthcare staff once they have left the hospital. Automating the process saves time and money — including labor costs — while providing a way to effectively communicate important information, such as discharge instructions, follow-up appointments and medication adherence.
Importantly, PatientBond uses a proprietary psychographic segmentation model to personalize all communications to the patients’ “healthcare personalities,” based on the attitudes, values and motivations regarding health and wellness. This enhances the likelihood that patients will respond with the positive behaviors that facilitate a successful recovery.
However, technology only supports and supplements nurses’ ability to engage patients in a meaningful way to reduce hospital readmissions; technology does not replace the human element or the nurses’ expertise. Working together, nurses and PatientBond have been able to reduce 30-day hospital readmissions for Congestive Heart Failure and spinal surgery by up to 90 percent.
When a hospital or healthcare system has their nurses take an active role, unplanned and avoidable hospital readmissions will decrease. Decreased hospital readmission rates can help patients have a better quality of life and enjoy improved health while allowing hospitals to avoid potential financial penalties and save money.