To Reduce the Billions Spent on Readmission, Hospitals Start Follow-Up Care Programs

With the health care crisis affecting so many, it's not surprising to find Americans cutting back on check-ups, medication and other health care that they simply can't afford. But health care professionals are also finding ways to cut back costs for patients so people who need medical attention aren't left at the way side. AARP Bulletin has a great article about how many hospitals are actually making home visits to patients to avoid readmission and the costs that come with it:

"Traditionally, hospitals haven't followed their patients' progress after they've been discharged. But high readmission rates have been linked to spiraling--and unnecessary--health care costs, prompting hospitals like Rush to start pilot programs to give patients the help they may need when they first return home.

A study published in the April New England Journal of Medicine reports that, currently, about one in five Medicare patients returns to a hospital within 30 days of being discharged. And that's expensive."

This has become such a concern that President Obama's budget proposal and health care reform bills are calling for changes in the wat that hospitals are being paid, as well as pending legislation that would create a new Medicare benefit to extend services that assist folks' transition from hospital to home. But in the meantime, many hospitals are taking action on their own. For example, Rush University Medical Center created a program a couple of years ago, the Enhanced Discharge Planning Program, that consisted of follow up calls to patients days after being discharged as well as arranging home visits if necessary. About 60 percent of the people who get follow-up calls need help, according to the program's records.

Looks like they have the right idea. Check out the entire piece.

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