Here is some great new information out recently from Stephen Jencks, MD, MPH. Dr Jencks is the lead author of the New England Journal of Medicine study on the cost of readmissions to the American healthcare system. In fact, he says hospitals must look beyond the four walls of their facilities to reduce readmissions. That’s great news for us because we talk to WAY TOO MANY guys who ricochet back and forth between hospitals and home health care due to urinary tract infections. Reducing infections and readmission rates go hand in hand!
Speaking recently in Florida, Dr Jencks expanded on his previous work to convince attendees that the best way to cut hospital readmissions was to build relationships within the local community.
“The idea that it is not just that the patient leaves the hospital and goes into the community. It’s that information leaves the hospital and goes to the community. And that information comes back to the hospital from the community. This is feedback. This is how you improve what you do when you send a patient out. And if you are not securing that feedback, it’s going to be really hard to make the discharge more effective and better. Yet the truth is that relatively few organizations have a systematic way of getting that feedback from nursing homes, physicians, home-health agencies and hospice.”
“On the other end, the same increasing complexity of information flow is here. You have the patient going back to the emergency service. And you have information going with the patient from the home health agency. Or the skilled nursing facility or from the family. And you have feedback coming from the emergency room to the organization that sent the patient. And that information may come back with the patient, for instance. Suddenly, the emergency room is now in an active dialog with the nursing home or the home-health agency or community nursing. This is a partnership. And partnerships with community organizations are emerging out of attention to readmissions. There are conversations going on between nursing homes and hospitals that weren’t going on five years ago.”
However, the biggest lesson is not to look at readmission as a black and white issue.
“Discharges are not something written in stone. In fact, in readmissions, the best way to reduce bad outcomes is to reduce exposure to the risk of bad outcomes”. I.e. reducing exposure to things like indwelling catheters will cut initial infection rates AND readmissions.
For partner organizations, “it’s not enough to put people in the back of the ambulance at 11 o’clock in the evening And shove them to the emergency room with a slip of paper pinned to them that reads, “Please diagnose and treat.”
“Understanding community is not new for hospitals. However, what is new is the need for partnerships within that community. The community shifts from where people flow in out to a set of partners you actively work with. That’s an enormous challenge for some hospitals. My personal suspicion is the hospitals’ ability to succeed with that challenge is going to be the difference between hospitals that really succeed over the next 10 years and those that find that it’s all too much for them.”
We’re rooting for hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies, patients and families as they make this transition. In addition, we look forward to supporting the reduction of urinary tract infections. That’s by introducing the healthier alternative, Men’s Liberty.
Have you experienced a catheter-associated UTI recently? Looking for a healthier option that gets you out of the hospital and back out in the world living life to the fullest? See if Men’s Liberty could work for you!