Transitions of care can be improved when providers share significant data on communication processes, according to a new study.
Researchers at the Healthcentric Advisors, a non-profit healthcare quality improvement agency in Providence, R.I., as well as Rhode Island healthcare providers, health plans, state agencies, and other stakeholders, developed communication standards on transitions of care. They then worked with 10 hospitals to monitor adherence to the standards.
What they found is that by auditing the hospitals’ adherence to the standards and providing staff with reports on how they were doing, it increased the amount of times hospital staff communicated necessary information to outpatient primary care physicians (PCPs). Specifically, clinical information sent at discharge increased from 30 percent to 94 percent, hospital clinicians' contact information provided at discharge increased from 63 percent to 97 percent, and notification of hospitalization increased from 82 percent to 87 percent.
Also increasing was the rate of hospital staff scheduled follow-up appointments, from 55 percent to 90 percent. While these processes and standards were in place, Rhode Island's overall readmission rate decreased more than 18 percent – from 14.12 to 11.52 per 1,000 Medicare beneficiaries.
"These communication processes seem very logistical and intuitive," Rosa Baier, Senior Scientist at Healthcentric Advisors and lead author of the study, said in a statement. "Most people assume that this type of communication is already occurring, and are really surprised to learn how much it varies from one clinician to another, even at the same hospital. An intervention like this one allows staff to see how well their hospital is performing and then use that information to improve."