Why Health Isn’t the Only Factor That Causes Hospital Readmissions
Hospital readmissions happen for many reasons, even though health status might seem like the only one. While many patients are readmitted due to health complications, recurring symptoms or poor follow-up care, there are other factors that you should be aware of so that you can take steps to prevent readmissions. The following are some of other main factors that cause hospital readmissions.
The type of insurance that patients have plays a major role in whether or not they are readmitted. A study by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center found that more than 55 percent of patients who were readmitted to the hospital are Medicare patients. Medicaid patients also have higher rates of readmission compared to patients who have private health insurance and those who have no insurance. Among the non-Medicare population, psychiatric disease and substance abuse were the most common diagnoses associated with readmissions among non-elderly patients ages 18-64.
These readmissions have cost hospitals billions of dollars, adding to the importantance of reducing these rates. Taking steps to lower the rate of readmissions through patient outreach and other means has been successful at helping hospitals avoid readmission penalties that are charged under the Affordable Care Act.
Patient income levels are another big factor in hospital readmissions. According to an analysis published in the Journal of Healthcare Quality, patients who have lower income levels have a higher likelihood of being readmitted to the hospital than those who have higher income levels.
Hospitals in low-income areas also face more penalties on average than those in other areas, even with risk adjustments in place Hospitals that mainly serve patients with low income levels should place a greater emphasis on overcoming health literacy challenges with the appropriate patient education and patient outreach in order to lower the risk of readmissions.
Patients who have dependable social support after leaving the hospital have a lower risk of being readmitted. Those who don’t have family, friends or professional caregivers to provide them with support are more likely to experience health problems that land them back in the hospital.
Hospitals can lower this risk by making sure that patients who lack social support from loved ones or caregivers have access to community resources. These resources can help them find the social support they need in their area after leaving the hospital.
This allows patients to quickly and easily find the information they need, such as what medications to take or when to schedule a follow-up appointment.
It’s important for patients to understand their condition and what they need to do in terms of follow-up care. Patients who have a solid understanding of the treatment they’re undergoing or what to expect during recovery are less likely to end up being readmitted to the hospital. They’re also more likely to contact healthcare providers with questions or concerns sooner rather than later.
For example, these patients have a higher likelihood of reaching out to healthcare providers if they are having trouble with any part of the recovery process, such as caring for a wound. Doing so helps ensure that they receive the information they need to lower their risk of infections or other complications. Taking time to provide patients with education and detailed instructions and ensuring that they understand this information helps reduce the risk of readmissions.
Note: It must be recognized that education isn’t enough, and that simply giving patients information about their condition or recovery will not drive behavior change. If education were sufficient, why are more than half of all primary care physicians overweight or obese? Why does a quarter of all Licensed Practical Nurses smoke? The most health-educated people behave in a way that is counter to healthy living.
Health education must be presented in a way that resonates with a patient’s motivations and priorities. Psychographic segmentation enables healthcare providers to deeply understand patients’ attitudes, values, personalities and lifestyles, and engage patients in a way that appeals to their intrinsic motivations. More and more hospitals are beginning to use psychographic insights to influence patients’ positive health behaviors.
Patients whose primary language isn’t English might run into language barriers that make it more difficult for them to understand their condition and follow-up care instructions. Providing these patients with instructions and education in their language if possible helps prevent this problem.
Another option is to ensure that these patients have someone with them who can translate instructions and educational information for them, such as a family member or professional caregiver.
Making it easier for patients to receive appointment reminders, take their medications and manage their health can help reduce hospital readmissions. Automated, digital patient engagement technology, such as PatientBond, offers an effective way to accomplish all of this — even with the many factors that can cause hospital readmissions. PatientBond uses a proprietary psychographic segmentation model to personalize all communications delivered via emails, text messages and Interactive Voice Response, and can adapt these communications to nearly any language.
PatientBond has achieved significant results reducing hospital readmissions for health issues such as Congestive Heart Failure and spinal surgery, even among underserved populations. The platform is a useful resource for healthcare providers looking to reduce readmissions across any patient population.