Ideally, when patients are hospitalized, their outpatient doctors are aware so they have all the necessary information to provide appropriate follow-up care. If outpatient doctors don’t have this information, they can’t properly treat patients, which can lead to preventable and unnecessary hospital readmissions.
To bridge this communication pitfall, Healthcentric Advisors, the Rhode Island-based organization leading the New England Quality Innovation Network, collaborated with various Rhode Island health professionals to develop community-wide hospital standards. Healthcentric Advisors then aggregated the data to see if implementing best practices led to a noticeable drop in readmissions.
Over time, researchers found that auditing hospital adherence to communication standards, and providing staff with periodic reports comparing facility performance to overall group performance (a quality improvement technique known as audit and feedback) significantly increased the frequency with which hospital staff communicated necessary information to outpatient primary care providers. This ultimately led to a reduction in readmissions.
As seen in the chart above, the increased use of communication best practices led to a decrease in the number of readmissions over the course of the study.
This is just one way that data is being utilized to improve health outcomes. The lessons learned and information gathered from this study may now be applied and have impact for patients far outside of the New England region.
This article is based on a study by Healthcentric Advisors published in the Journal of Hospital Administration, August 27, 2014.