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How to Reduce Hospital Readmissions by Identifying Four Drivers of Complications

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No one doubts hospital readmissions have become a debilitating problem in healthcare. With 34,000,000 discharges in America every year, hospital readmissions create pointless spending for patients and the healthcare industry at large.

What’s up for debate are its causes.

We know that 20 percent of discharged Medicare patients come back within 30 days. That figure jumps to 34 percent after 90 days. An incredible 90 percent of readmissions within 30 days are unintentional and happen due to clinical deterioration. We also know that 75 percent of hospital readmissions can be prevented.

Identifying the four drivers of readmission complications helps us better reduce hospital readmissions across the board.

 

Lack of discharge plan execution

Having a structured discharge plan that’s customized to each patient can not only reduce the hospital stay but reduce hospital readmissions. The plan is a process, not a reactionary or solitary event, which should start as soon as possible. Having this planning system requires a support structure that personalizes needs and the applicable services. An effective approach to reduce hospital readmissions takes a collaborative approach.

 

Lack of patient education or patient preference

Without equipping patients to better manage their own health, they never learn to take control and accountability for their actions. A common barrier, for example, is that patients often have a lack of knowledge regarding their medication. Though it’s often explained upon discharge they sometimes simply don’t understand.

Some patients don’t like staying at assisted living facilities and prefer hospitals instead. Without a loved one to care for them at their homes, it makes hospitals their preferred choice even though it’s a drain on finances.

Spending time to prevent each can reduce hospital readmissions.

 

Lack of post-discharge care coordination

Often, communication can become a hurdle when it comes to hospital readmissions. Some healthcare systems handle discharges based on broad categories, such as diagnosis or demographics. That approach can result in a uniform approach toward communication.

When efforts become personalized to match the patient’s health and behavior toward it, post-discharge care becomes better coordinated. Psychographic segmentation offers new insight, and hospitals can better understand how to assist the patient when they exit their care.

 

Poor timing doesn’t reduce hospital readmissions

A research study once revealed that patients readmitted within eight days were more likely to experience problems related to the original condition. However, patients readmitted after 30 days were more likely to have lacked follow-up care, or had a new illness arise.

Time of day also played a factor. Those patients discharged during morning hours were less likely to be readmitted, which might suggest it empowered patients and their caregivers to make better arrangements and plan ahead.