Study Validates Significant Impact of Post Discharge Phone Calls on Readmissions

A recently released study in the current issue of Journal for Health Care Quality validates the impact that post discharge follow up phone calls from a centralized call center can have on hospital readmissions.

The joint study between Ohio University, Texas A&M and the National Science Foundation analyzed hospital visits from 74,754 patient admissions. These patients (18 years of age and older) included all diagnosis that could result in an unplanned hospital readmission not just the diagnosis included in the CMS Readmissions Penalty Program. The study ran from August 2010 to January 2016.

A key finding of the study is that a centralized call center approach to post discharge follow up is far superior to that of a decentralized approach. The study mentions the many inherent issues with tasking unit nurses with post discharge follow up with patients. Some of those items include:

  • Unit nurses had difficulty working the calls into their day-to-day routines
  • Some unit nurses were less comfortable than others in making the calls so there was a lack of consistency

Once the study transitioned to a centralized call center approach a much higher percent of patients was reached. The centralized call center team attempted three calls to each patient with the objective of completing these five items:

  • Are you feeling better today than when you left the hospital?
  • Do you have questions about your discharge instructions?
  • Have you been able to fill your prescriptions?
  • Did our staff review your follow-up appointments or the process for scheduling your follow-up?
  • Do you have any other questions?<

More than 70% of patients required a refresh on at least one of the above items. However, the startling outcome of making a single person-to-person connection telephonically, post discharge resulted in those patients having a 32% lower rate of readmission. Patients that were not reached readmitted at a 1.32x rate of those that were reached.

Further, once a centralized call center approach was applied, thus reaching a higher percentage of patients post discharge, those not reached were 1.64x more likely to be readmitted.

The bottom line is person-to-person, post discharge, telephonic phone calls are effective at reducing readmissions.

At Nexus Health Resources we are thrilled the word is getting out. We’ve known this information and have been putting it into practice. Read how we have helped Orange Regional Medical Center reduce readmissions by more than 50% with post discharge telephonic outreach. (link to case study).

Interested in learning more about how our automated care coordination platform, NexusConnexions, and our team of care coordinators at Nexus Health Resources can assist in lowering your readmissions? Click here to schedule a demonstration of NexusConnexions

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