Many factors can have an impact on hospital readmissions, and with transparent readmission rates tracked by the CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services), hospitals are under increasing pressure to find a balance between financial performance and operating expenses. A recent report on Medicare patient readmissions shows 2,583 hospitals (83%) received penalties totaling $563 million. The average penalty was 0.71% of total Medicare payments.1
Healthcare facilities are looking for patient engagement and patient education solutions that can increase and coordinate patient communication to avoid readmissions and increase satisfaction scores. These are tied directly to operating expenses and revenue.
Cross-functional communication is key to avoiding readmissions.
With readmissions representing only direct patient care expenses and indirect expenses, it’s important to look for tools and technology that can support reducing costs and CMS penalties across the care team and nonclinical staff. Without an aligned care plan and consistent communication, patient outcomes may be less than optimal and lead to a readmission. Readmissions are not only expensive, but over time may lead to a decrease in overall profitability. Readmitted patients may have a higher degree of severity in their condition, which could require more complex treatment methods.2 In the short term, readmissions may represent incoming patient revenue, but in the long run they represent escalating expenses over time, plus possible CMS penalties. Greater use of resources and increased labor costs associated with readmitted patients are a significant financial line item.
In a recent study by AHRQ looking at causes and prevention of readmissions, researchers state, “…when patients are engaged in their health care, it can lead to measurable improvements in safety and quality,” and “High rates of readmissions are a major patient safety problem associated with adverse events such as prescribing errors and misdiagnoses of conditions in hospital and ambulatory care settings.3“
For consistency and quality, the primary care team should be the central point of contact for patients. HCI solutions make that easy and concise with interactive whiteboards, and the primary care team can manage a variety of patient communications. They can assign patient education, monitor education comprehension, respond to notes from other clinicians, push surveys, pull scans and X-rays from the EHR directly to the interactive whiteboards and perform pain reporting using a simple, graphical interface. With a connected in-room Gojo (hand sanitizer) device, a hand washing icon can appear on the whiteboard to indicate the care team member has practiced hygiene protocols. A wide variety of customizable apps are available to support a facility’s specific care and staff guidelines, and color-coded alert monitoring is built-in to support patient safety.
Interactive Technology can help bridge the gaps.
For consistency and quality, the primary care team should be the central point of contact for patients. HCI solutions make that easy and concise. The primary care team can manage a variety of patient communications. They can assign patient education, monitor education comprehension, respond to notes from other clinicians, push surveys, pull scans and X-rays from the EHR directly to the interactive whiteboards and perform pain reporting using a simple, graphical interface. With a connected in-room “Gojo” device, a hand-washing icon will appear on the whiteboard to indicate the care team member has practiced hygiene protocols. A wide variety of customizable apps are available to support a facility’s specific care and staff guidelines. Alert monitoring is built-in, including Smart Bed alerts to reduce fall risks.
In the journey to reduce readmissions, look for patient engagement technology solutions that provide:
- Standardization of multidisciplinary communication
- Accurate and clearly communicated medication plans
- Monitoring and measurement of patient education completion and comprehension
- Patient engagement strategies for collaborative communication, side-by-side with patients and family members
- Interactive whiteboards that work across the provider’s infrastructure to coordinate patient information
- Patient and family access to daily/weekly goals, education goals and discharge or transfer information
- Clinical and nonclinical staff engagement in the patient communication experience
Using proactive engagement technology to avoid readmissions, it’s possible to help patients who may feel confused about their discharge plan and goals; who may not fully understand the treatment associated with their condition; or who experience confusion about how to administer their prescribed medications or wear prescribed appliances.
With HCI’s Interactive Whiteboards and hospital grade interactive televisions, it’s possible to bridge the gaps in communication across the care team and clear up patient confusion. Using touchscreen technology integrated across the enterprise and fed through the RTLS, Nurse Call and EHR systems, care team members and patients have access to all pertinent patient data and rounding history. Patient restrictions or protocols, such as Contact, Airborne or Droplet precautions are immediately visible on the Interactive devices, which are completely cleanable. Patients and their family/caregivers can see Next and Last Rounding information, identify the care team, review prescriptions and more. The Interactive Whiteboard layouts and modules are HIPAA-compliant and completely customizable, arranged or built to the facility’s specific standards. The capabilities of Interactive Whiteboards can help healthcare facilities reduce readmissions and the resulting penalites.
Contact HCI today for an online demonstration of the range of capabilities we offer to help reduce readmission penalties and lower operating expenses.