One of the most pressing concernsfor all the hospitals these days is the high rates readmission of patients within a specific time period. Depending on the cause behind the readmission of patients, rates of the same could vary. Studies suggest that readmission of around 1/3rd of the patients occur from day 16th to day 30 after discharge. Patient readmission obviously is not good news for hospitals, and they are always looking out for measures that can be undertaken so that the rate of readmission is reduced. But this is a bit challenging, as there are plenty of causes that aid hospital readmission.

Of all the important and the not so important reasons, the patient’s health condition, type of disease or surgery, the timing of discharge, patient engagement after the discharge, demographics, and type of insurance, etc. play a role in the type and rate of readmission. According to an AHRQ health report, heart failure is by far the most usual reason for readmission to hospital.

Furthermore, the period of the discharge also plays a significant role in the readmission of patients. Studies have shown that the ones admitted within 8 days suffer complications from the original disease while the ones admitted in a 30 day suffer developmental new disorders. In addition to all stated above, patients’ lack of knowledge or illiterate behavior are also some of the major factors contributing to poor communications and readmissions.

Reports suggest that around 20% of the total readmission of patients are largely avoidable. The advent of penalties for unnecessary returns has compelled hospitals to be more cautious about their past, present, as well as future commitments to in patients. Among the various approaches taken by hospitals worldwide to reduce readmissions, one thing that has a significant impact is the use of the latest technologies. By modifying and improving the existing processes and workflows with the use of technologies, both the readmission rate and the penalties associated can be dramatically reduced.

Strategies That Can Be Implemented to Reduce Rate and Cost of Readmission

Readmission is extremely troublesome for the patients and at the time, it also poses a serious threat to the hospital’s financial health. According to a report by AHRQ, readmission ranks among the costliest treatment given by the medical experts with the annual cost of readmission in a 30-day span rising to $41.3 billion. Undoubtedly, it is an alarming concern for the hospitals as they need to compensate for all the unwanted returns. However, one single tweak cannot create a difference, it requires a comprehensive approach.

To cut down the explicitly high rates of readmissions, hospitals need to work on three strategies –

  • Identification of the root causes
  • Identification and implementation of the right technology solutions
  • Enhancement of patient engagement

All three clubbed together aid reduction of the readmission rates in hospital.

How can technology help?

Having said all about what are the causes and what tactics should the hospitals employ to digitize their surrounding and ways reduce the rate of readmission, let us take a look at various ways technology can help in avoiding readmissions –

  • Digitization of health records: Withthe use ofEHR systems, hospitals can maintain a central repository of patient records and provide access to that to all the involved stakeholders. The unified view of the patient medical history anytime, anywhere helps everyone in the ecosystem in offering the best possible care and also helps in accurate and timely diagnosis leading to a reduction in complications during treatment.
  • Mobility: With thehelpof mobile apps, doctors and caregivers can constantly communicate with their patients and stay in touch with them on an ongoing basis. Patients can ask questions to their caregivers, get their doubts clarified, and take better care of themselves outside the hospital. All these things help in the faster recovery of patients and lesser chances of readmissions.
  • Automatic Reminders: Automation of communication through mobile apps makes it easier for both patients as well as medical professionals to communicate effectively. It leads to better adherence to medications after discharge. Also, follow up can be effectively tracked through automated communications.
  • Virtual Care: Telemedicine andvideo calling are bringing in major paradigm shifts in the healthcare field. Through telemedicine, experts can analyze the health of patients and suggest an appropriate course of action to them. Patients can get their questions answered or seek medical opinions without leaving their home thereby eliminating the need for post-discharge visits. With these consultations, any post-discharge complications can be detected in a timely manner and acted upon before they get serious.
  • Patient Education: One of the most common measures that help reduce the rate of readmission in hospitals is the effective education of the patients. By using the latest technologies such as AR/ VR, healthcare organizations can educate their patients on chronic health management, advise them on post-surgery care, and provide ongoing tips on taking care of their health. All these things help the patients in avoiding common mistakes and deter the risk of readmission.
  • Patient care using Robotics: The advancements in the field of AI and Robotics have transformed healthcare services. Robot assistants not only help in patient care but also help in the rehabilitation of stroke patients.
  • Automatic follow up systems for patients after discharge: Automated follow-ups through IVR systems aid in monitoring patients who have just undergone surgery. Through these follow up, patients are asked a series of questions, and based on their responses, they are provided the next course of action – allowing the healthcare organizations to ensure that the patients are taken care of even after discharge from the hospital.

Apart from this, big data and analytics are helping hospitals focus on preventive strategies to avoid readmissions. Hospitals can build predictive models to analyze the huge volumes of data at their disposal and identify patients with high risk of readmission. Hospitals are always aiming for reducing avoidable readmissions as it helps them not only reduce costs but also improve the quality of care and improve the overall patient experience. Technology, undoubtedly, will continue to play a critical role here – especially in the era of smart healthcare.