How to Reduce Hospital Readmissions with Medical Alert Devices
Hospital readmissions happen when a discharged patient returns to a hospital for further care within 30 days of their previous hospitalization. While readmissions are not uncommon, they can strain health care resources and put a financial burden on both patients and hospitals. To improve patient outcomes, it is essential to understand the factors leading to hospital readmissions and how to prevent them. This blog will explain how to reduce hospital readmissions by using medical alert devices.
Reasons for High Readmission Rates
Numerous factors contribute to high hospital readmission rates. Medical conditions such as heart failure, coronary artery bypass graft, and myocardial infarction are among the most common reasons for unplanned readmissions. Patients with chronic illnesses and comorbidities are at a higher risk of readmission due to their complex health care needs.
Other key factors are inadequate discharge planning and poor transitions of care. The day of discharge is also significant, with patients discharged on weekends having higher readmission rates than those discharged on weekdays.
Primary care providers and hospitals face several challenges preventing readmissions, including a lack of coordination between primary care and hospital teams, noncompliance with medication and care plans, and limited community resources. However, effective interventions such as follow-up care, patient education, care coordination, and integration of social workers have shown promising results in reducing readmission rates. With careful planning and innovative strategies, hospitals can improve patient outcomes and financial performance by decreasing readmission rates.
Risk Factors for Readmission
Given the high costs and negative impact on patient outcomes associated with unplanned readmissions, learning how to reduce hospital readmissions has become an urgent priority for health care providers in recent years. As such, they must understand the risk factors contributing to hospital readmissions to develop effective interventions to prevent them. In this article, we explore the factors that increase the risk of hospital readmissions, their impact on patient outcomes, and strategies to minimize their occurrence, ultimately reducing hospital readmissions.
Reducing hospital readmissions begins with identifying high-risk patients. These individuals are more likely to be readmitted due to various factors such as age and medical conditions. Clinicians should also assess the patient’s social determinants of health, including income, education, and housing, as these factors can significantly affect a patient’s likelihood of hospital readmission.
To identify high-risk patients, clinicians should review the patient’s medical history and current diagnoses. Patients with chronic conditions such as heart failure and myocardial infarction are at higher risk of readmission. Patients with a history of excess readmissions or unplanned readmissions within 30 days of discharge should also be considered high-risk.
By identifying high-risk patients early, clinicians can develop effective interventions that reduce the risk of readmission. This may include facilitating follow-up care and referrals to skilled nursing communities or social workers. Implementing care plans that address social determinants of health can also improve patient outcomes and reduce the likelihood of hospital readmissions.
Some medical conditions have higher readmission rates than others, leading to a more significant correlation with rehospitalization rates. Data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) reveals that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and heart failure are two of the medical conditions with the highest readmission rates. In fact, heart failure causes nearly a quarter of all readmissions in the U.S., and patients with COPD have a readmission rate almost double that of other conditions.
Strategies to Reduce Readmission Rates
Learning how to decrease hospital readmission rates has become crucial in improving patient outcomes and quality of care. Excess readmissions increase health care costs and indicate suboptimal care coordination and patient management. Luckily, there are many ways to decrease unplanned readmission rates and prevent avoidable hospital admissions. These include, but are not limited to:
- Primary Care Providers: Primary care providers limit hospital readmissions because they can provide patient-centered care, and regular check-ups can identify potential issues that may lead to complications and hospitalizations, enabling early interventions to prevent readmissions.
- Case Management: By identifying and addressing potential issues early, health care providers can create care plans that promote effective care transitions.
- Patient Education: Educating patients on recognizing symptoms early can help them seek timely medical care and prevent further complications.
- Identifying At-Risk Patients: Determining factors such as pre-existing medical conditions, social determinants of health, and limited health literacy can increase the risk of readmission.
- Skilled Nursing Communities: Skilled nursing communities offer appropriate rehabilitation, care coordination, and follow-up care that can improve patient outcomes and decrease the risk of readmissions.
Using Medical Alert Devices to Prevent Hospital Readmissions
Medical alert devices are technologically apt in finding new measures to reduce hospital readmissions. These devices allow patients to call for help in an emergency, such as a fall or sudden illness. They can also monitor vital signs and alert health care providers to abnormal readings. By keeping patients safe at home, medical alert devices can reduce the need for hospitalization.
HandsFree Health offers several medical alert devices to help monitor patients and keep them safe. Devices such as the WellBe® Medical Alert Smart Speaker and Smart Watch offer advantages such as:
- 24/7 Medical Monitoring At Home + On the Go
- WellBe—Virtual Health Assistant
- Reliable Answers to Health Questions
- Medication Reminders + Prescription Refill Alerts
- Blood Pressure, Glucose, and Weight Tracking
- GPS Location for Emergencies
- Heart Rate Monitor Built-In
- Pedometer Built-In to Track Steps
- Direct Communication with Emergency Services
HandsFree Health also offers the WellBe Medical Alert Pendant, which provides:
- 24/7 Emergency Response
- Optional Automatic Fall Detection
- 2-Way Communication
- Voice Prompts
If you or a loved one is concerned about the chance of hospital readmission, shop now for your HandsFree Health medical alert devices so you can Be Heard, Be Healthy, Be Empowered.