When heart-failure patients have follow-up appointments with their outpatient doctors, outcomes are good, Dr. Fonarow says. However, they are not done nearly enough.
“Early follow-up is essential,” he says. “Follow-up within seven days—in higher-risk patients, even earlier, within three days—is something that has been associated with a lower risk of rehospitalization.”
Despite the research, only about 30% to 40% of patients hospitalized with heart failure are seen by any outpatient provider in the first week post-discharge.
“We have a real opportunity there,” Dr. Fonarow says. “The inpatient physicians can play a really critical role in ensuring that there’s early and appropriate follow-up, and good communication and handoff to the outpatient physician.”