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Hospital Readmission Avoidance: Filling In The Communication Gaps

July 31, 2018 Jeanette Stern

Hospital Readmission Avoidance

After a patient has recently been released from a hospital, one of the last things he or she wants to do is find himself or herself back in the hospital. Yet hospital readmissions are becoming extremely common, and the majority of the time it is due to huge holes in the transition between the hospital and the patient's residence. Hospital readmissions within one month of discharge result in billions of dollars in Medicare costs that could have been avoided.

The impact of hospital readmissions can impact both sides. Readmissions will require hospitals to channel more medical staff and resources away from the first-time patients, and the readmissions can eventually lead to government funding being reduced. It has been discovered that a high percentage of hospital readmissions can be avoided, and many hospitals have been making progress in reducing the hospital readmission rates. 

Here are some ways hospitals and other healthcare facilities can work hard to reduce readmission rates among all patients, especially minorities and those in underserved and under-resourced communities. 

Setting The Path For A Better Transition

One of the best ways to ensure patients have a better understanding of their diagnosis and their recommended treatment is to ensure they have access to interpretation services by medical professionals. The medical professional interpreter should be fully involved during the entire discharge process to make sure there is effective communication throughout the process. Hospitals can also make the necessary arrangements for these services even after the patient has left the hospital.

Bring In Loved Ones and Caregivers

The patients who are encouraged and supported after they have been discharged from the hospital are less likely to be readmitted to a hospital. Sometimes patients will not experience any gaps or barriers in communication, but the loved ones and caregivers may experience some of those barriers. This is why it is important for hospitals to involve the family members and loved ones who will be around to support the patient's recovery. All stakeholders will have their own communication needs, and the hospital should ensure everyone's communication needs are met. 

Offer The Right Educational Materials

All patient educational materials should be culturally appropriate. When educational materials are translated into the preferred language and culture, there will be fewer gaps and communication barriers. Sometimes the patient's educational and literacy level should also be considered. It is important that respect is shown for the various beliefs and cultural practices that patients exhibit.

Some patients exhibit beliefs and practices that promote family support or self-care and these beliefs can be influenced by post-hospital care. Trust between patients and healthcare professionals can be improved through the use of professional interpretation services, especially when there is a familiarity with the culture and beliefs. 

In addition to the language barriers that exist, some patients do not have an extended knowledge of the various medical conditions that exist. Some patients may not understand enough to process the medical information that has been passed down to them. When preparing all the educational materials, it is important that medical terminology is simplified as much as possible. A translation in the complex medical terminology can greatly reduce the struggles that many patients face while reading educational materials. 

Many of the hospital readmission rates are a result of communication barriers, language barriers, lack of resources, lack of trust, and low literacy levels when it comes to health care and medical terminology. What steps do you plan to take to reduce hospital readmissions rates? Are you prepared to take steps that will also improve the overall outcomes based on the diverse populations you serve? 

For more information about hospital readmission avoidance and other healthcare solutions, please do not hesitate to contact us today. 

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