Reduce Readmissions and Reimbursement Penalties

Posted on November 15, 2012. Filed under: Post By Christy Whipple, Readmission |

“Clearly communicate post-discharge instructions. Patient communication and education is a critical component of readmission prevention.”
Christy Whipple

Under healthcare reform, healthcare providers with high levels of preventable readmissions face the potential of losing a portion of their federal payments. The Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, part of CMS’s Inpatient Prospective Payment System, will reduce Medicare reimbursements to hospitals with preventable 30-day readmissions; specifically acute myocardial infarction, heart failure and pneumonia. Furthermore, CMS’s Hospital Value-Based Purchasing Program includes measures for readmissions, which will also penalize hospitals for high rates of preventable readmissions. Both programs take effect fiscal year 2013. Currently, almost 20% of hospital inpatients are readmitted within as little as 30 days; for chronic conditions this figure rises to 25%.

Improved Discharge Instructions Reduce Readmission
Following recent data that discharge instructions boost patient satisfaction, comes proof that improved discharge care can reduce hospitals’ readmission rates. Thanks to a recent patient education initiative, Charleston Area Medical Center (CAMC) has seen readmission rates of heart failure and pneumonia patients fall drastically. CAMC suffered from a 24.54 percent 30 day readmission rate in the first quarter. However after implementing their initiative, in April and May of this year, only 10.64 percent of heart failure patients were readmitted to the West Virginia hospital. Additionally, the hospital saw a significant drop in the number of pneumonia readmissions from 11.11 percent to 4.4.

Chief Quality Officer of CAMC, Dale Wood, credits the success to simplifying discharge instructions. The hospital provides patients with discharge packets and handouts with important reminders, such as taking their medications, visiting their doctor within 14 days of their discharge, monitoring their weight and other important follow-up information.

Preventable Readmissions are Costly
In addition to the high costs associated with preventable readmissions, preventable readmissions rates are increasingly being used as a quality indicator by commercial payers and consumers alike. This can negatively affect hospitals’ bottom line. According to the Colorado Hospital Association, as hospitals look to cut avoidable re-hospitalizations and associated costs, more institutions are starting to amend their discharge processes.

Quality Discharge Instructions in Top 10 Proven Means of Reducing Readmissions
Becker’s Hospital Review recently released an article naming quality post-discharge instructions as one of the top 10 proven ways to reduce preventable hospital readmissions. Their findings were based on a combination of research and successful hospital initiatives. The article states, “Clearly communicate post-discharge instructions. Patient communication and education is a critical component of readmission prevention.”

Introcomm provides custom solutions for the admissions and discharge processes. To learn how we can decrease your hospital’s readmission rates with little to no additional out of pocket expense, please contact us today to schedule our complimentary educational webinar.
Click here to download our complimentary PDF. Learn how Introcomm can help lower readmission rates with a customizable educational marketing tool. 


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