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New Study on Patient Readmission: Nurse-Patient Communication Can Help

Published on February 12, 2019 by Graham Newnum

Readmissions patient discharge survey

Hospitals lost out on over half a billion dollars in Medicare reimbursements in 2017 – penalties from CMS for failing to reduce unnecessary readmission rates. The 2018 numbers have yet to be released, but trends indicate they’re unlikely to look much different.

In an era of tightening budgets, hospitals and health systems can’t afford to leave money on the table. A new study from St. Ambrose University may help those looking to improve patient readmission rates and retain their reimbursement.

The study, "Effect of Implementing Discharge Readiness Assessment in Adult Medical-Surgical Units on 30-Day Return to Hospital," involved having both patients and their nurses complete a “discharge readiness assessment” prior to being released from the hospital.

The eight-question survey – developed in part by the American Nurses Credentialing Center  – asked patients about their level of support at home, their perceived ability to care for themselves, whether they felt physically ready to leave the hospital, and whether they believed they had enough information to be discharged.

The result: a marked reduction in readmission rates in hospitals whose rates had been high prior to implementing the new protocol.

34 hospitals – 32 in the US and 2 in Saudi Arabia – participated in this research. Dr. Marianne Weiss, who led the research, is eager to implement this protocol at more hospitals to see if the results are replicable.

Hospitals and health systems that treat a high percentage of limited-English proficient (LEP) patients might consider implementing a similar survey with the aid of phone or video interpretation services. Having the survey itself translated into commonly requested non-English languages would likely improve patient participation as well. And since LEP patients consistently readmit at a higher rate than those who speak English fluently, reducing unnecessary LEP patient readmissions could have a disproportionate impact on the hospital’s overall readmission rate.

Want to learn more about the potential impact of a quality language services program on hospital readmission rates? Check out our whitepaper here:

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