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Case Study: Post-discharge calls: Finding the right way to do the right thing for your patients

Post-discharge calls have much to recommend them. Academic research has proven their impact in improving compliance with discharge instructions, bolstering patient satisfaction, reducing readmissions, and—most importantly—saving patients’ lives.

The modern healthcare leader is no longer asking, “Should we implement a discharge-call process?” but rather, “How do we implement the right process for our organization and our patients?”

The right way to deploy a program depends highly on the size, structure and resources available to your organization.

And while success doesn’t necessarily rely on what this process looks like and who connects with your patients post-discharge, it does rely heavily on the following being in place:

  1. A standard process that ensures contact with 100% of patients within 24 to 72 hours
  2. The appropriate staff being notified and equipped to resolve the needs of high-risk patients
  3. Patient feedback being collected and reported in a way for managers and leaders to improve processes

Finding the right way to achieve these three critical success factors can consist of trial and error for organizations. In the case of the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), they found that despite leadership commitment and investment, they could not find a practical way—relying only on internal staff—to conduct the initial outreach to 100% of patients. As a result, high-risk patients slipped through the cracks, invaluable feedback never circulated, and outcomes didn’t improve.

For UMMC, the right way turned out to begin with realizing they could not (and should not) implement a process on their own. In an attempt to not only improve outcomes, but also save expensive nursing resources, they turned to NRC Health to help execute a formalized process in which every patient is contacted, high-risk patients are connected to the appropriate staff, and the insight gained from the connection with patients is packaged for managers and leaders to use to improve care for future patients.

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