From the Journals

Ten tips for managing patients with both heart failure and COPD



Activate the patient and develop critical health behaviors

Medical regimens for these diseases can be complex, and they must be supported by patient engagement. “Many strategies for engaging patients in care have been tested, including teaching to goal, motivational interviewing, and teach-back methods of activation and engagement. Often these methods are time intensive. Because physician time is increasingly constrained, a team approach is particularly useful.”

Set up feedback loops

“Course correction should the patient decompensate is critically important to maintaining outpatient success. Feedback loops can allow for clinical stabilization before rehospitalization is necessary.” Self-monitoring with individually set benchmarks is critical.

Arrange an early follow-up appointment prior to discharge

About half of Medicare patients with these conditions are readmitted before they’ve even had a postdischarge follow-up appointment. Ideally this should occur within 7 days. The purpose of early follow-up is to identify and address gaps in the discharge plan of care, revise the discharge plan of care to adapt to the outpatient environment, and reinforce critical health behaviors.

Consider and address other comorbidities

Comorbidities are the rule rather than the exception and contribute to many readmissions. Get primary care on the team and enlist their help in managing these issues before they lead to an exacerbation. “Meticulous control – even perfect control were it possible – of cardiopulmonary disease would still leave patients vulnerable to significant risk of readmission from other causes.”

Consider ancillary supportive services at home

Patients may be overwhelmed by the complexity of postdischarge care. Home health assistance can help in getting patients to physical therapy, continuing patient education, and providing a home clinical assessment.

Neither of the authors had any financial disclosures.

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