David Rodeck

4 Ways To Reduce Hospital Readmissions

High hospital readmission rates cost the American health care system a fortune. And they’re a financial burden to your employees and your business.

What counts as a readmission? Patients are considered “readmitted” when they return to any hospital within 30 days of discharge — even if they go to a different hospital or have a different health issue. The AHRQ notes that the most common causes of readmissions include complications from surgical and medical care, congestive heart failure, pneumonia, mood disorders and maintenance chemotherapy. While some readmissions are unavoidable, others are caused by a lack of planning and treatment after the patient leaves the hospital. A 2016 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine estimated that roughly 27 percent of hospital readmissions could have been prevented.

Here are four ways your employees may be able to avoid having to go back to the hospital.

1. Schedule a Physician Checkup

Employees should schedule an appointment with their family doctor immediately after leaving the hospital, especially if they have a serious condition. A study published in the Annals of Family Medicine found that outpatients who saw their doctor within 14 days of leaving the hospital lowered their readmission rates by up to 19.1 percent.

Instead of letting a problem develop unnoticed, potentially leading to a readmission, a primary physician can make sure your employee’s recovery is on track.

2. Use Nursing Services

When your employees leave the hospital, medical staff will give them instructions on posttreatment care. Encourage employees to use your nursing resources — whether on-site or via a hotline — as part of their care.

Nurses can help answer any questions your employees might have about what they should be doing and will watch out for any signs of trouble that could require a doctor’s visit. Once again, this can catch a problem early before it leads to a readmission.

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3. Track Vitals Remotely

Your employees should ask whether there are any medical devices they could use to track their status after they leave the hospital. These devices can transmit alerts if a patient’s vitals become troublesome, enabling medical care professionals to respond before a hospital readmission is needed.

4. Find the Best Hospitals

Some hospitals do a better job than others of preventing readmissions. Talk to your health insurance carrier about their preferred hospitals. After all, your carrier likely works closely with a large number of providers in your area and can bring a valuable perspective. If you find certain hospitals are better than others in your area, encourage employees to choose the higher quality ones.

Also encourage your employees to use your health insurance carrier’s cost comparison tool to ensure they’re going to the best, most cost-effective hospitals for non-emergency care.

After leaving the hospital, the last thing your employees want is to get sick again and have to be readmitted. By taking the steps above, you may be able to lower your employees’ hospital readmission rates and keep your plan costs in check.

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