Enhanced Transitions of Care: Centralizing Discharge Phone Calls Improves Ability to Reach Patients and Reduces Hospital Readmissions

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Abstract

Background:

The discharge phone call (DPC) is an important initiative aimed at improving transitions of care and reducing readmissions. It is of added importance as financial penalties will be imposed on hospitals with “excessive” Medicare readmissions. This study examines the impact of DPCs on percentages of patients reached through the DPCs and hospital readmission rates based on the centralized or noncentralized mode of DPCs.

Methods:

The health system centralized the Studer Group Discharge Phone Call program into one central call center with the goals of reaching more discharged patients and to ultimately reduce hospital readmissions. The study analyzed hospital visits from 74,754 patient admissions that could result in an unplanned hospital readmission. Hospital discharge data were analyzed from August 2010 to January 2014. Primary outcomes included DPCs reaching discharged patients and effects on hospital readmission rates as a result of centralizing the DPC program.

Results:

Centralized DPCs are significantly associated with increases in the percentage of patients reached by the DPC, which in turn reduces readmissions rates. Patients not reached were 1.32 times more likely to be readmitted than patients reached by centralized DPCs.

Conclusions:

Centralizing the DPC program within a call center helps reach more patients and reduce readmission rates further compared with noncentralized DPCs.

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