Shockingly, one in five elderly patients discharged from a hospital is readmitted within a month. Seeking to address the substantial human and financial burden of revolving door hospital readmissions, the Affordable Care Act has proposed a number of initiatives to improve care and health outcomes and reduce costs for the growing population of chronically ill people in the U.S.
While transitional care is a central theme in these provisions, there is little information available to guide those responsible for implementing these important opportunities. To bridge the gap, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing reviewed existing programs in order to determine what works, for whom and for how long.
They discovered “a robust body of evidence” that transitional care can improve health outcomes and reduce hospital readmissions. Their paper published in a recent edition of Health Affairs, highlights a range of solutions to reduce avoidable hospitalizations and health care costs.
The team conducted a systematic review of the research literature and summarized twenty one randomized clinical trials of transitional care interventions targeting chronically ill adults. From these, they identified nine interventions that demonstrated positive effects on measures related to hospital readmissions. “All nine interventions that showed any positive impact on readmissions relied on nurses as the clinical leader or manager of care,” wrote lead author Mary Naylor, Ph.D., R.N.
The strategies they identified have been shown to result in short term benefits and effectively reduce all-cause hospital readmissions through six or 12 months. “If we capitalize on what we know, the real beneficiaries will those living with complex chronic conditions and their family caregivers,” explained Naylor.
This makes sense to us and is certainly a lot easier than trying to understand the Affordable Care Act.