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Study: Regular phone calls from nurses shown to reduce hospital readmissions

December 12, 2012
Uncategorized By LW Consulting Inc.

Hospitals today must meet a number of different regulations to gain reimbursements and financial incentives from the federal government. For example, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) provides incentives to medical providers that meet meaningful use requirements.

Also, hospitals must work toward certain goals to avoid financial penalties. HIPAA violations and a lack of ICD-10 compliance could lead providers to be penalized significantly and many are working with a hospital consultant to ensure their goals are met.

High patient readmission rates also cause problems for hospitals, as CMS will be lowering the amount they reimburse such facilities. However, one study from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health shows that high readmission rates can be curbed if nurses initiate a series of basic phone calls to remind patients of their medications and appointments.

The study found that more than $1,000 per patient can be saved through this process. In total, the program is estimated to have saved the hospital nearly $750,000. The researchers followed more than 600 patients and the report is published in the latest edition of Health Affairs.

"The nurse engages the patient in an open-ended discussion," she said. "They spend a lot of time talking about medications, follow-up and the appropriate response to any signs and symptoms that the patient's medical condition could be worsening. Many patients, within two days of discharge, were not taking their medications properly … Our nurse can help them work through those issues and make sure they are doing things as they should."

Medical providers that need assistance with reducing patient readmissions or meeting ICD-10 compliance should speak with a hospital consultant experienced in healthcare strategic planning.