Despite evidence that enrollment with hospice services has the potential to reduce hospital readmission rates, previous research has not examined exactly how hospitals may promote the appropriate use of hospice and palliative care for their discharged patients. Therefore, we sought to explore the strategies used by hospitals to increase the use of hospice and palliative care for patients at risk of readmission.Methods:
We conducted a secondary analysis of qualitative data from a study of hospitals that were participating in the State Action on Avoidable Readmissions (STAAR) initiative, a quality improvement collaborative. We used data attained from 46 in-depth interviews conducted during 10 hospital site visits using a standard discussion guide and protocol. We used a grounded theory approach using the constant comparative method to generate recurrent and unifying themes.Results:
We found that a positive effect for hospitals participating in the STAAR initiative was enhanced engagement in efforts to promote greater use of hospice and palliative care as a possible method of reducing unplanned readmissions, the central goal of the STAAR initiative. Hospital staff described strategies to increase the use of hospice and palliative care that included (1) designing and implementing tracking systems to identify patients most at risk of being readmitted, (2) providing education about hospice and palliative care to family, internal and external clinical groups, and (3) establishing closer links to posthospital settings.Conclusion:
National efforts to reduce rehospitalizations may result in improved integration of hospice and palliative care for patients who are at risk of readmission.