Build a Better Discharge Experience with Four Simple Steps
Hospital discharge is a complex process happening at a time when patients are especially vulnerable. But at Envera Health, we believe that the healthcare experience doesn’t end at discharge. Our transition team provides post-discharge follow up services for health systems across the country – proactively contacting all patients after discharge from acute care or ambulatory settings.
Based on our experience speaking with patients after they’ve returned home, we’ve identified 4 primary focus areas for improving the discharge experience. These simple steps can help increase patient engagement, strengthen communication and improve a patient’s overall health.
1. Ease the burden of follow-up care
The last thing patients want to worry about as they recover is remembering to schedule an appointment and making sure their primary care doctor has the information they need. This burden can keep patients from getting the follow-up care they need.
Since many patients leaving a hospital or medical care center will need to follow-up with their provider within a week, offer them some peace of mind by checking in and offering to help schedule their appointments. Let them know that all medical records are electronically transferred so primary care providers have quick and easy access to details about the care they received.
2. Get family and caretakers on-board with discharge instructions
Following discharge instructions is an important step in the healing and recovery process. But discharge instructions are rarely simple and straightforward. Getting family members or caretakers on board with discharge instructions can help relieve pressure on the patient, particularly when they are managing multiple conditions or are still recovering from a serious illness or injury. Clearing up any questions or concerns about discharge instructions can offer peace of mind to patients (and families) as they will have a better idea of what to expect once they leave.
3. Centralize important communication
We recommend providing patients and caregivers with simple and easy to read information sources that can answer their questions as they continue care at home. This may include information sheets in the discharge folder, a nurse hotline or office phone number that patients can call with questions. Having access to important care information cuts down on emergency response rates, allows caretakers to get important medical information when needed, and – most importantly – lets patients focus on recovery and relax knowing they are in good hands. We also recommend calling the patient to check-in after discharge – this gives them the opportunity to have their questions answered and relieve worries.
4. Close core gaps with communication and outreach
Patients are like snowflakes – no two patients are exactly alike. It’s important to keep this in mind even after patients leave your facility. Some may need more attention and support than others, but it’s important that all patients’ questions are answered with care and attention in order to make them feel comfortable and confident in their ability to care for themselves.
We recommend reaching out to all patients after discharge to check on their status and to offer help with follow up. But we also suggest making note of the patients that need a little extra attention and support. Reach out to these patients more regularly to ensure they feel cared for, valued and have access to the information and support they need.
Continued care, outside facility walls
Attempting to avoid preventable readmissions and reduce their risk of penalties, health systems are often turning to their already limited care management resources to contact patients after discharge — an inefficient approach at the expense of higher clinical priorities.
Let’s face it, care management resources are limited. Attempting to avoid readmissions by having your care managers contact patients after discharge is an inefficient approach at the expense of higher clinical priorities. At Envera Health, we created a light and efficient transitions of care approach that allows health systems to contact 100% of patients after discharge. Through a brief assessment, we review the patient’s experience and care needs. Based on their response, some calls are escalated to our clinical team to review discharge instructions and coordinate follow-up care to support the recovery process.
To learn more, join us on October 18th for a live webinar to hear how Bon Secours Mercy Health set out to create a new discharge experience, focused on more efficient and effective processes to reduce patient confusion and prevent readmissions.