Study: Post-Discharge Phone Calls Reduce Hospital Readmissions

Post-discharge phone calls by a case manager to certain high-risk patients were associated with fewer readmissions, according to a study in the American Journal of Managed Care.

In the intervention group of the study, patients at high risk for readmission received a phone call from a case manager within 24 hours of discharge. High-risk patients were defined as patients with a major diagnosis of gastrointestinal, heart or lower respiratory conditions at initial discharge and a length of stay of at least three days.

Calls were made in descending risk order and addressed post-discharge understanding of medication, post-discharge care management orders and scheduling of follow-up visits.

In the control group, high-risk patients received phone calls 48 hours after discharge, and calls were not ordered by patients' level of risk.

The intent-to-treat 60-day readmission rate for the treatment group was 7.4 percent compared with 9.6 percent for the control group, which represents a 22 percent "relative reduction in all-cause readmissions," according to the study. The intervention group had more physician visits and prescription drug fills after discharge, which may account for the reduced readmissions, according to the study.

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