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5 Reasons Smart Hospitals Are Using A Discharge Folder To Improve Their Discharge Process

Posted by Chris Higgins on Wed, Feb 11, 2015 @ 07:00 AM

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Is your hospital's discharge process keeping up with new trends in medical reporting and surveying?

In recent years, government agencies -as well as patients- have been turning a much closer eye to discharges and unplanned re-admissions In fact penalties for re- admissions within 30 days of discharge are increasing 3% in 2015 making preventable re-admissions even more costly than they already are.

Studies have shown that an improved discharge process can reduce the 30 day re-admission rate and provide real saving to hospitals committed to the process.  

HCAHAPS scores are another major issue .  Hospitals that score poorly on HCAHPS surveys also face financial penalties.  On top of that, HCAHPS scores are used by patients to "shop around" for hospitals, avoiding facilities with low scores.  

But, there's good news here. Discharge processes can be improved and a simple well designed patient discharge folder is an inexpensive way to begin.  For just a few dollars per-patient, you could see better scoring, higher Federal reimbursement, and overall happier patients.

Five Ways A Discharge Folder Creates Better Patient Outcomes

1 - Higher Satisfaction And Self-Confidence

Hospitalization and after-care is scary for most patients, and that's something which is easy for hospital staff to forget.  It gets even scarier for those facing weeks or months of instructions that must be followed for proper recovery. 

Good communication and proper documentation give patients confidence that their rehabilitation plan is complete and, more importantly, that THEY have everything they need to know for success.  A good discharge folder provides this and more, leading directly to happier patients.

2 - Improved HCAHPS Scores

One issue that HCAHPS surveys tend to highlight is the discharge process, because the HCAHPS system puts far more emphasis on the subjective experience - the patient's opinions on the matter - a well designed discharge folder can make a huge difference in how the patient scores the discharge process. If they have a complete discharge and after care plan in a well designed and organized discharge folder, it's hard to give the discharge process a poor score.

3 - Focused Discharge Processes

The systems involved in creating and putting together a patient's discharge folder will necessarily encourage hospital staff to be more "hands-on" about discharge procedures.  By carefully laying out everything a patient needs, in an organized format, it helps ensure staff are double- and triple-checking every piece of information that goes into the folder.

Further, it gives them a very clear visual reference to go along with the instructions a patient is being given.  Instructions can be reinforced by reviewing the actual packet materials, which will greatly improve the patient's knowledge retention after they leave the hospital.

4 - Lowered Readmission Rates

Collectively, unplanned re-admissions cost $40 billion or more per year to the US healthcare industry, with an average cost of roughly $40,000 per patient to individual hospitals.  That means a five-dollar discharge folder could literally be worth five figures, in terms of avoided costs.

Preventable re-admissions are one of the largest AND most unnecessary expenditures in modern healthcare. Virtually anything your hospital can implement to reduce them will show clear ROI... discharge folders are simple effective and inexpensive. Even a tiny reduction in re-admissions would justify the expenditure.

5 - Fewer Penalties

As we indicated above, the government is very concerned with patient outcomes, and that concern is growing.  The penalties associated with 30 day re-admissions increased 3% this year and chances are that trend will continue. 

A hospital that acts now to implement a patient-focused discharge process that's truly concerned about reducing re-admissions will be heading off a lot of potential problems in the future.  Get a handle on these things now, and you could be one of the hospitals at the top of the ratings board.

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Topics: discharge folders, hospital discharge folders, custom discharge folder