Adequately preparing a hospital patient to transition to care at home is one of the most important deterrents to hospital readmissions. Alarmingly, HCAHPS scores for care transition and discharge planning often fall among the lowest of all HCAHPS ratings.
The Connection between HCAHPS and Readmissions
There are studies dating back to 2011 that highlight the critical relationship between patients’ engagement in their healthcare, and 30-day readmission rates. Patients who are more involved in their care decisions and understand their care protocol, know how to care for themselves, and receive good communication before discharge are likely to be more satisfied, give higher HCAHPS scores and are less likely to need readmission.
A 2017 study found similar outcomes between 30-day readmissions and readmissions a full year later. “Patients who indicated on HCAHPS surveys that they were not engaged in their own care were 34 percent more likely to be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of discharge,” according to the study. Hospital readmission was 24 percent more likely for patients who did not receive written instructions during discharge. The researchers looked at five aspects of discharge planning – all revolving around patient education, and a patient’s understanding of and involvement in their care decisions.
As it turns out, those are the same factors patients place at the top of their priority list for impacting patient satisfaction, according to a just-released report. Overwhelmingly, (97%) patients surveyed prefer a provider that communicates with them and involves them in their care. They want to understand their diagnosis, the medications they are being prescribed, and how to care for themselves at home.
Using Technology to Improve Patient Satisfaction and Readmissions
It’s clear that educating patients and involving them in their care is not only the key to lowering readmissions but also to improving patient satisfaction and HCAHPS. What steps can a hospital take to deliver greater patient satisfaction and do so without adding more workload to busy staff or buying a lot of new, expensive equipment?
Most importantly, say the researchers, “If you’re not already using one, start thinking about a patient portal that will make it easier for you to communicate with patients throughout their treatment.”
In fact, many hospitals are using technology to communicate with and educate patients. The most common features hospitals are using with a solution like Allen’s E3 Patient Engagement Solution are an introduction to care services and the care environment, sharing health education videos and materials, and communication with care teams.
With E3, the patient can view the educational materials on the in-room television, swing-arm touchscreen unit, or tablet. The nurse can then follow up during rounding to answer questions, and remind the patient to complete other videos. There’s no expensive equipment to purchase and no complicated IT implementation.
Those are great places to start, but interactive patient engagement technology offers hospitals vastly more opportunities for easy ways to engage patients, educate them, empower them, and achieve exceptional patient satisfaction.
Two Ways to Expand the Impact of Interactive Patient Engagement
Offering patients medication information through their interactive patient engagement system is still a mostly untapped opportunity. Currently, less than half of hospitals (45%) are doing this, according to CHIME’s Most Wired Trends report. With Allen E3, hospitals can add medication fact sheets and videos that improve a patient’s medication understanding and adherence, lower the chance for readmission – and set the hospital well ahead of its competitors in terms of patient satisfaction.
The AHRQ estimates that nearly 20 percent of patients experience a post-discharge adverse event – many of these are adverse drug events. The value of equipping patients with better medication information is clear.
Another innovative opportunity to improve patient education, patient satisfaction, and readmissions is how we deliver content. It goes without saying that health information must be delivered in ways that patients understand. That includes taking into account language differences. Nearly one-fourth of U.S. residents speak a language other than English at home. Offering access to patient education only in English when the hospital patient population is culturally and linguistically diverse will not result in better-educated patients on the whole or more satisfied ones.
Allen recognized the critical importance of overcoming language barriers years ago when we implemented multi-language options on our E3 solution. Addressing language barriers in healthcare settings enables effective communication between providers and patients, which leads to increased positive patient outcomes, increased health literacy among limited-English-proficient patient groups, and higher patient satisfaction among these patients.
If your hospital is looking for innovative, low-cost solutions to improve patient satisfaction and lower readmissions, contact us. Allen Technologies is helping hospitals across the country to improve HCAHPS, outcomes, and efficiencies.