Many hospitals are reevaluating their relationships with post-acute care facilities in light of Medicare regulations that reduce reimbursements if there are too many readmissions within 30 days of patient discharge. Facilities that can’t meet those metrics often experience a decline in both referrals and revenue. Luckily, you can improve patient outcomes and reduce rehospitalizations by following these tips.
Offer Ongoing Staff Training
Offering training three or four times a year is no longer sufficient if you want to remain competitive. Your staff plays a crucial role in outcomes. If they don’t have the training they need, they can’t offer the level of services that will prevent patients from returning to the hospital.
Your employees will be more likely to comply with training mandates if you make it easy for them to learn new techniques and improve their existing skills. Online classes, lunch-and-learns and mini information sessions held during staff meetings offer simple ways to keep your staff up to date on skills, techniques and policies.
Update Your Equipment
Evaluate all of your equipment and replace any that uses outdated technology or is difficult to operate. Although buying new medical equipment can seem expensive, you can’t afford to skimp on these important purchases. If a hospital decides to make site visits, the condition of your equipment is likely to influence your ranking.
Make Patient-Centered Care a Priority
Patient-centered care, the new standard of care for healthcare facilities, is an important factor in improved outcomes. In patient-centered care, patients receive detailed information about their diagnoses and treatment options and make decisions about their care in collaboration with doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. Patients who participated in a one-year study reported in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine experienced less frequent hospitalizations and better outcomes when they took part in patient-centered care.
Improve patient-centered care by:
Explaining to patients how they will benefit from participating in care management
Providing easy-to-understand information about diagnoses, treatment and lifestyle changes in several formats, such as handouts, brochures and online versions
Using open-ended questions to ask patients about their concerns
Helping patients create attainable goals
Addressing psychological or physical barriers that make it difficult to accomplish goals
Use Electronic Health Records
Electronic health records (EHR) make transferring and sharing patient information much easier. When everyone involved in a patient’s care has immediate access to records and test results, it’s much easier to coordinate care and ensure that the patient receives the most appropriate treatments. Hospitals can easily monitor patient progress if you use an EHR system that’s compatible with theirs. If you don’t have an EHR system, or local hospitals don’t consider your system acceptable, they may be less likely to make referrals to your facility.
Establish Open Communications with Hospitals
Bed and schedule availability aren’t the only concerns when hospitals make referrals. The more information you can provide about how you manage care transitions, set milestones and address polypharmacy and other issues, the better. You can put hospital care managers’ minds at ease by explaining your protocols and policies, such as how they’ll be alerted if a patient hasn’t met a milestone. It’s also a good idea to ask for feedback regarding how you can better meet the hospitals’ need and improve outcomes.
In the ever-changing world of healthcare, facilities that take the initiative to address issues and find solutions will thrive. Focusing on improving patient outcomes will help ensure that your referral rate remains high.