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Two Proven Ways to Help Reduce Readmissions

Acute Care August 1, 2019

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services put hospitals on notice back in 2012 that excessive patient readmissions would not be acceptable – and in fact, could be costly to the hospital. For this reason, the Department of Health and Human Services established the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP). The HRRP served as part of the Affordable Care Act’s goal to improve healthcare by financially rewarding quality care.

While readmission rates have improved, many hospitals are still struggling to meet the HRRP mandate. A staggering 82 percent – 2,599 hospitals — will face Medicare payment reimbursement reductions this fiscal year under the program. Those penalties are based upon readmissions between July 2014 and June 2017.

Sentrics E3: Two Proven Ways to Help Reduce Readmissions

As hospitals seek to drive improved readmission rates – and in turn, improve hospital revenue – two strategies are proving to be critical.

Educate patients during the hospital stay

Shorter lengths of stay condense the time that nurses have to educate patients on their condition and their care. However, patient education is an essential clinical priority if hospitals are to improve patient outcomes and keep discharged patients from having to be readmitted. Tools that streamline the patient education process for the nurse can be a game-changer. That is why those hospitals using engaging video content, automatically assigned to patients, to teach health information are seeing significant jumps in patient engagement and health literacy.

Take, for example, Torrance Memorial Medical Center in Torrance, California. Torrance uses Sentrics E3’s patient education solution to automatically assign diabetes education videos to patients based on their point of care glucose order. Patients get an inbox link on their television, alerting them that a video awaits viewing. Once viewed, that action is written back to their electronic medical record.

Since implementing the Sentrics, the hospital has seen an impressive 600% increase in patient viewership, without adding workload to the nursing staff.  “This integration makes such a difference for how the educators are going about their day and prioritizing their patients,” said Anton Postolati, Torrance’s technical application developer. “Through the E3 integration with the EMR, we know exactly how much they have watched.”

With an automated video education solution like Sentrics’, nurses can use their rounding time more effectively. This added efficiency allows more time for information teach-back where nurses can further explain the condition and care instructions, and patients repeat that back to the nurse.


Improve discharge readiness

A recent Patient Experience Journal study reported that failure to provide adequate discharge planning and communication has a direct correlation with all-cause, unplanned readmissions from 43-365 days post-discharge.

Patients who did not receive information about their hospital discharge, did not understand their medications and how to manage their health at home, and were not involved in their care decisions led to higher readmissions. The researchers found that “patients who reported always not being involved in their care decisions had 34% higher odds of readmission, compared with those who reported some degree of involvement. Additionally, patients who reported that they did not receive written information about what symptoms or health problems to look out for after leaving the hospital had 24% higher odds of readmission.” Together, that is a 58% greater likelihood for readmission due to inadequate discharge planning.

An interactive patient engagement solution addresses those deficiencies. With Sentrics E3, the patient and nurse can walk through all the critical information the patient needs to understand, screen by screen, before discharge:

  • What medications have been prescribed, what are they for, how should they be taken, and what side effects should be monitored?
  • What is the day-by-day care plan at home – and what should the patient and caregivers do if the patient begins experiencing health problems?
  • What social determinants of health (SDOH) does the patient face – is transportation available for the scheduled follow-up appointments?  Can the patient afford to fill the prescriptions? Will the caregiver be able to read and understand the instructions?

Prompts on the E3 discharge planning screens remind the staff to address these questions and any others that may be concerning the patient or the family. E3 helps ensure that the patient and family are fully prepared for the transition home, while also helping improve and inform the transition of care from the hospital to other providers who otherwise may not have known about SDOH challenges.

There is no single magic bullet for improving readmission rates. However, hospitals that are incorporating Sentrics’ interactive solution are experiencing an impressive return on that investment.  2017 CMS data shows that Sentrics has helped its customers receive more than $2 million in quality-performance based financial incentive payments. Which also helped them to avoid millions in value-based purchasing penalties. One hospital reaped nearly $900,000 in value-based purchasing incentives in the last two reporting periods alone.

If your hospital is looking for innovative, low-cost, high-value ways to lower readmissions and improve patient outcomes, talk to Sentrics. Our E3 solution is helping hospitals across the U.S. deliver a better patient experience more effectively.

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