New rules passed as part of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act aim to reduce the need for readmissions by charging additional fees to hospitals with excessive readmissions.

Although it’s still early,
this policy seems to have had an effect. A recent New York Times article
outlined the efforts of hospitals across the country that have seen
success in reducing hospital readmissions by adopting changes to
discharge planning including:

  • Identifying patients who are at highest risk of readmission
  • Follow-up nurse visits to patients’ homes
  • Proactively ordering patient prescriptions and scheduling follow-ups
  • Patient and caregiver education
  • Culturally specific diet tips
  • Transportation to for patient follow-up appointments
  • Increased monitoring of nursing home patients

Of these efforts, patient education is one the most important. Taking
prescribed medicine properly is essential to preventing readmissions,
but a recent study
involving 377 seniors found that “81 percent of the patients
either didn’t understand what all their prescriptions were for; were
prescribed the wrong drug or the wrong dose; were taken off a drug they
needed, or never picked up a new prescription.” Efforts as simple as
ensuring that seniors understand their medication regimen could go a
long way in preventing readmissions and improving patient outcomes.

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