Unplanned Hospital Readmissions Reduction Best Practices
Unplanned hospital readmissions occur when a patient is discharged from a hospital then returns to the hospital within a certain time frame due to an unplanned medical issue. These readmissions can be costly for both the patient and the healthcare system. To reduce the number of unplanned hospital readmissions, the following suggestions can be considered:
Improve communication: Effective communication between healthcare providers and patients is essential to reducing unplanned hospital readmissions. Patients should be provided with clear instructions about their care after discharge and should be encouraged to ask questions and voice any concerns. Healthcare providers must ensure patients understand their medications, treatment plans, and follow-up appointments.
Enhance care coordination: Care coordination is a key element in reducing unplanned hospital readmissions. Healthcare providers should work collaboratively to ensure that patients receive consistent care throughout their hospitalization and after discharge. This includes ensuring that patients have access to the necessary resources, such as home health care, physical therapy, and social services.
Implement transitional care programs: Transitional care programs are designed to help patients transition from the hospital to their home or a post-acute care facility. These programs can include follow-up phone calls, home visits, medication reconciliation, and care coordination. A systematic review found transitional care programs significantly reduce hospital readmissions.
Focus on patient education: Patient education is crucial. Patients should be educated about their medical conditions, treatment options, and self-care strategies. This can include providing educational materials, such as pamphlets and videos, and teaching patients how to monitor their symptoms and identify warning signs of complications.
Use technology: Technology can be used to improve communication and care coordination, which can help reduce unplanned hospital readmissions. For example, telehealth can be used to provide remote patient monitoring and virtual consultations with healthcare providers. Electronic health records (EHRs) can also be used to share patient information between healthcare providers, which can improve care coordination and reduce the risk of medication errors.
By implementing these strategies, healthcare providers can reduce the number of unplanned hospital readmissions, improve patient outcomes, and reduce healthcare costs. Additional resources and information on reducing hospital readmissions can be found at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s website (https://www.ahrq.gov/).
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