As a nurse, you often build personal relationships with patients that are unique in healthcare. As a result, you are positioned to make a positive impact at reducing readmission rates, because unlike other healthcare professionals, you have the knowledge and rapport to communicate and work with patients in adhering to treatment plans, as well as flagging possible areas of concern or symptoms of future problems.
A readmission can be emotionally exhausting, as well as expensive for patients and providers. As a result, finding ways to keep patients healthy following a discharge is critical. As the American Health Care Association reported, healthcare professionals and policymakers have turned to lowered rates of readmission as an essential tool in cutting costs and inefficiencies across the board. By combining clinical nursing skills and strong personal relationships, nurses are on the frontline of these efforts.
According to Health Affairs, some providers have already tested programs where nurses are specifically in charge of helping with patients as they work toward a full discharge. This begins at an initial admission, and as you build a relationship with an individual patient, you begin to build an expertise in regard to his or her special needs or weaknesses. In this way, you can start to consider potential fall-outs or issues that may lead to a readmission further down the road.
Nursing Times found that following surgeries, providers that were under-staffed had the highest rates of readmission. This is consistent with previous findings, with magnet hospitals and facilities with adequately resourced nursing departments shown to have lower instances of readmission. These institutions even showed decreased rates of mortality.
You must be sure to communicate any important information related to adherence or issues in following a specific treatment plan. This will help you gauge an individual's readiness ahead of a discharge. In your discharge summary, you can include information on the patient's needs in coordinating care in the future and identify resources such as family members or caregivers that can be helpful in mitigating any potential set-backs.
Be sure to offer your expertise and insights to attending doctors when considering a discharge. Again, you may have the most accurate assessment as to whether or not a patient will be successful or needs another day or two of treatment and support. Once a patient has gone home, reaching out and offering support and guidance is also an essential step for reducing the possibility of readmission.