Did you know that nearly 20% of discharged Medicare patients unexpectedly return to the hospital? This costs Medicare billions of dollars annually. Luckily, hospitals can reduce such costs through vigilant patient contact.
Hospitals that profile high risk patients-the chronically ill and the elderly, for example- and regularly check up on discharged patients, in general, have lower readmission rates. Specifically, highly integrated outpatient care systems and relationships between hospitals and healthcare providers, nursing homes, health clinics, palliative care units, pharmacies and home care greatly lower readmission rates.
With coordinated care and communication, treatment plans remain uninterrupted and consistent from hospital to outpatient care, avoiding unplanned hospital visits due to mismanaged medication or other treatment plan components. In fact, regular post-hospitalization medication reviews help prevent adverse medication incidence requiring emergency treatment.
What’s more, carefully thought out patient engagement throughout the healthcare system efficiently share preventative care, treatment and best practices with providers and patients. This information stream promotes patient care through literacy.
For example, electronically shared healthcare records and community disseminated educational media keep patients and providers readily informed. There are videos and apps that can demonstrate bandage changes, injection sterilization practices or warning signs for heart attack. These help keep patients to follow post-acute care instructions and encourages them to take charge of their care.
Directing patients to websites, such as the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), to access healthcare resources also expands patient literacy.
The AHRQ’s resources include downloadable and fillable post-discharge interactive guides with checklists and reminders. The guide is an all-in-one assembly of post-care information maintained and discussed jointly with patient and provider. Patients can keep track of vital information such as physician contact information, appointment dates, medication lists, procedures to follow, questions to ask at appointments and much more.
Digital monitoring tools keep patients under continuing professional care
Ever-emerging digital tools that monitor chronic and acute conditions at home, assist medical teams to intervene and make decisions about immediate and ongoing care. Simple electronics, like digital glucose testing devices that report diabetic patient blood sugar levels to treating physicians, aid preventative treatment and avoid patient hospital visits.
Aside from shared electronic health records and digital imaging systems, hospital healthcare teams are increasingly relying on mobile technology to improve post-discharge patient care. Smart phones and tablets conveniently connect physicians to available information for new and emerging treatments globally. These portable devices readily enhance quicker, more innovative patient diagnosis, prognosis and treatment.
Mobile, cloud and other technologies merge to help hospitals coordinate data from a wide array of sources like ER’s, clinics, wearables, mobile devices and other digital tools. This holistic approach to patient health–in real time–rounds up specialists, nurses, clinicians and all providers on a patient’s post-discharge team with the hospital for coordinated, efficient and engaged patient care.
Through technological advances that coordinate communication and complex healthcare systems, patients and caregivers with little to no medical expertise can breathe a sigh of relief. Education and support empower, engage and improve patients -and their health- after hospitalization.