With increasing focus on the care continuum instead of an individual patient episode, providers are being held accountable for treating and monitoring patients both inside and outside the hospital. To encourage positive long-term outcomes and patient loyalty, organizations must follow up with 100% of their discharged patients. This additional touchpoint is an opportunity for providers to answer any questions that patients have regarding treatment or recovery, ultimately helping to reduce readmissions and enhance perceptions of care.
The question for organizations then is not whether they should invest in a follow-up solution, but rather, how they can ensure that their solution is most effective. We have outlined several best-practices that are shown to improve care transitions and patient outcomes, and reduce 30-day readmission rates.
- Customizable Follow-Up Questions
- Follow up should not be viewed as a “one size fits all” practice. Patients arrive at the hospital with diverse medical histories, diagnoses, and symptoms, and the follow up administered should be sensitive to these differences. To ensure that feedback promotes positive health for all patients, follow-up questions should be specific and meaningful to the circumstance of each individual.
- Timely Responses
- Although patient feedback at any point post-discharge is valuable, it is most impactful within a day or two of leaving the hospital. With timely responses, patients can better recount their experiences in detail and providers can also address any patient concerns and prevent adverse events.
- Real-Time Issue Resolution
- Post-discharge follow up is most beneficial when providers have access to patient feedback in real time as many patient issues, such as filling a prescription, is time sensitive. Giving care providers a channel to address and resolve time sensitive issues is a key factor in decreasing readmissions and avoidable complications.
- Consistent Outreach
- The initial 30 days after a hospital visit sees elevated rates of readmissions, as complications and questions regarding post-discharge care are common. Patient outreach is critical during this time period, and should occur multiple times over the 30-day window. This consistent outreach helps address patients’ changing needs during recovery.
- Combination of Automated and Manual Outreach
- While providers have differing views on the benefits of manual versus automated outreach, an advanced follow-up process takes a hybrid approach, combining electronic and live provider contact. Utilizing automated outreach to identify and triage patient issues helps maximize valuable staff time. Staff can then provide manual outreach to any patients that require additional assistance, ensuring all issues are resolved promptly and effectively.
Effective post-discharge follow up leads to a number of important benefits for patients by enhancing communication with providers, improving care transitions, and reducing the time required to resolve issues. To ensure that post-charge follow up derives these benefits for both patients and caregivers, organizations should continually rethink and build upon the system that they have in place.
CipherHealth works with organizations to optimize post-discharge patient follow up. Voice, our follow-up calling platform combines automated and manual outreach to improve patient outcomes and reduce readmissions. Click the link below to learn more about Voice or request a demo.