Reducing ED Readmissions

Breaking the readmissions cycle requires detailed knowledge of contributing factors and targeted action plans.

In a hospital system that can already be overloaded, patient throughput and transitions of care are a high priority. When a hospital exhibits a high emergency department readmission rate, it can signal increased risk for future adverse patient outcomes. And it’s a waste of resources.

Preventing avoidable readmissions has the potential to profoundly improve both quality of life for patients and the financial well-being of healthcare systems.

The High Cost of High Readmissions

The cost of unplanned readmissions is estimated at about $26 billion a year in the United States, with the average cost of each readmission coming in at around $15,200. Furthermore, more than 80% of hospitals in the U.S. have sustained annual financial penalties for having too many hospital readmissions.

And, there are downstream effects of each unplanned readmission to the ED, which only add pressure to existing staffing and ED boarding challenges. ED readmissions have a sizable impact on healthcare costs on an already overburdened system.

How do EDs break this complex cycle to effectively reduce readmissions and deal with throughput and other care transitions issues?

The answers lie beneath the surface and within the organization’s captured data. By analyzing trends, timeframes, resource utilization, and outcomes in new ways, EDs can find their way to the right targeted solutions.

Quality of Care and Readmission Rates

A direct correlation exists between readmissions and quality of care. Hospitals in the top 25% for quality initiatives typically have low readmission rates. While not all are controllable, some of the key reasons for readmissions include:

  • Inadequate discharge planning
  • Lack of follow-up care
  • Polypharmacy
  • Medication errors
  • Chronic illness management
  • Complexity of patient cases
  • Patient education gaps
  • Lack of primary care access
  • Patient social factors

To accurately pinpoint these weaknesses and subsequently improve those that can be helped, granular data is needed.

How d2i Analytics Can Help

d2i’s healthcare data analytics solutions can help practices reduce readmissions with an understanding of what the data says about a department’s historical trends, and also where it should act.

For example, advanced analytics can help an ED improve its discharge plans with additional services like automated texting to interact with primary care providers. Analytics can also assist by identifying patients who might need additional support, such as home health services, follow-up appointments, or medical equipment. This enhances the transition from the hospital to home, reducing the chances of readmission.

Data analytics can identify high-risk patients based on factors such as medical history, social determinants of health, and previous ED visits. By stratifying patients according to their risk of readmission, healthcare providers can allocate resources more efficiently and focus interventions on those who need them most. Certain risk assessment dashboards powered by analytics can track the effectiveness of interventions aimed at reducing readmissions. By analyzing the outcomes of specific interventions, healthcare systems can refine their approaches and focus on strategies that prove most successful.

There are endless ways that an analytics tool can help organizations reduce readmissions, from streamlining transitions of care and evaluating admissions protocols, to analyzing resource allocation and improving patient engagement.

All of these require segmenting data in new ways and strategically analyzing it to gain knowledge of the organizational factors that contribute to the readmission cycle.

d2i uses knowledge gained from more than a decade of experience delivering emergency medicine analytics solutions. To learn more about how your HCO or physician practice can improve patient flow and the bottom line by reducing ED readmissions, contact us or request a demo to get an under-the-hood look at our analytics solutions.