Quality

Post-Discharge Phone Calls Prevent Hospital Readmissions


 

Two RIV posters presented at HM13 from University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) hospitalists analyzed outcomes from post-discharge phone calls to patients and found that those who were reached and interviewed by a call nurse had a 33% lower all-cause readmission rate.

UCSF joined SHM’s Project BOOST quality initiative in 2009 and adopted its recommendation to call patients within 72 hours of their hospital discharge, according to co-author Michelle Mourad, MD, assistant professor of clinical medicine and a UCSF hospitalist. “We reached out to about 60% to 70% of our patients with a standard script to address issues associated with readmissions,” Dr. Mourad explains. “We were also lucky enough to build a computer program with quantifiable outcomes in the database.”1

Researchers broke the data down into three categories: those called and interviewed by the nurse; those called who didn’t answer the phone or had a wrong number; and those who were never called due to errors in the administrative list of discharged patients. Interpreting the results is complicated, Dr. Mourad says, because of the challenges of separating factors leading to patients answering the survey from those that affect their readmission risk.

“These phone calls weren’t done in isolation and were part of our overall bridging interventions for patients going home from the hospital,” she says. “We designed the intervention to help people, and we found that 43% of those reached had at least one issue identified in the call for which the nurse tried to help.”

However, whether patients reported post-discharge issues and their responses to specific questions within the interview were not associated with readmission rates. “Does that mean the nurses’ calls are not helping? It either means the nurses are effectively managing these issues to prevent readmissions or that the factors affecting readmissions are more complicated than we currently understand,” Dr. Mourad says.


Larry Beresford is a freelance writer in San Francisco.

References

  1. Harrison J, Quinn K, Mourad M. Is anyone home? The association between being reached for a post-discharge telephone call and 30-day hospital readmission. Harrison J, Quinn K, Mourad M. Any questions? The relationship between responses to post-discharge call questions and 30-day hospital readmissions [abstracts]. Journal of Hospital Medicine, 2013, 8 Suppl 1.
  2. Institute of Medicine. Crossing the quality chasm: a new health system for the 21st century. Institute of Medicine website. Available at: http://www.iom.edu/~/media/Files/Report%20Files/2001/Crossing-the-Quality-Chasm/Quality%20Chasm%202001%20%20report%20brief.pdf. Accessed Sept. 9, 2013.
  3. Shlaes DM, Sahm D, Opiela C, Spellberg B. Commentary: the FDA reboot of antibiotic development. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 29 Jul 2013 [Epub ahead of print].
  4. Alliance for Aging Research. HAIs growing problem, group says. Alliance for Aging Research website. Available at: http://www.agingresearch.org/content/article/detail/33504. Accessed Sept. 9, 2013.
  5. Huang SS, Septimus E, Kleinman K, et al. Targeted versus universal decolonization to prevent ICU infection. N Engl J Med. 2013;368:2255-2265.
  6. Hospitals in Pursuit of Excellence. Eliminating catheter-associated urinary tract infections. Hospitals in Pursuit of Excellence website. Available at: http://www.hpoe.org/Reports-HPOE/eliminating_catheter_associated_urinary_tract_infection.pdf. Accessed Sept. 9, 2013.
  7. Center to Advance Palliative Care. Growth of palliative care in U.S. hospitals 2013 snapshot. Center to Advance Palliative Care website. Available at: http://www.capc.org/capc-growth-analysis-snapshot-2013.pdf. Accessed Sept. 9, 2013.

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