Hospitals seek ways to lower readmissions

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality estimates that readmissions to hospitals cost the U.S.  $30 billion a year, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal.

The article examines how ProjectRED (Re-Engineered Discharge), a discharge-planning program developed by Boston University, helped reduce readmissions by 30% in a 2008 study.

ProjectRED focuses on communications to prevent readmissions.  Key steps in the project:

  • A discharge advocate nurse is assigned to each patient upon admittance. 
  • The discharge advocate educates the patient about the diagnosis, arranges follow-up appointments and confirms medication plans.
  • At discharge, the nurse provides an individualized instruction booklet that is also sent to the patient's regular doctor. The nurse reviews the instructions and asks patients to explain them in their own words.
  • Two days after discharge, the nurse calls the patient to check in.

(Sources: The Wall Street Journal, http://online.wsj.com, June 7, 2011; The Advisory Board Daily Briefing, http://advisory.com, June 9, 2011)