Background and Purpose: At least 12% of stroke patients are readmitted to a hospital within 30 days of discharge. We know that patients hospitalized for other conditions are less likely to be readmitted within 30 days if they are seen by their PCP shortly after discharge. However, less than a third of patients in the New York metropolitan area admitted for heart failure, heart attacks, and pneumonia see their PCP within 14 days after discharge and nearly 40% of patients do not adhere to their prescribed regimen. In the case of cerebrovascular diseases, outpatient follow-up may prevent the majority of avoidable readmissions. The purpose of this project is to identify and reduce unnecessary, unplanned hospital readmissions after stroke. Our goal is to encourage patient adherence to prescribed medication and other therapies, as well as to ensure timely follow-up with their PCP.
Methods: Stroke and transient ischemic attack (TIA) patients with a disposition of either home or short-term rehabilitation are visited and offered enrollment. Participants are given a kit which includes a personalized binder (to manage essential medical information) and a 28-slot pill box. Each patient then receives 3 phone call interviews at 7, 21 and 32 days after discharge. The aim of the phone calls is to identify obstacles to compliance with treatment regimen and follow-up care.
Results: From January 2015 to June 2016, 247 patients were enrolled and followed up. Within 30 days of discharge, 10% were readmitted and 50% of all readmissions occurred within the first 7 days. Of those readmitted, 19% were due to an injury from physical therapy. Data from follow-up phone calls revealed that 83% were taking all prescribed medications, 89% had completed a follow-up with any physician, 69% were using the binder, and 61% had done all three.
Conclusions: While we have not enrolled enough patients to see a statistically significant reduction in readmissions, our interviews showed that weather, depression, as well as a lack of insurance, family support, and a home health aide are all determinants on how patients will follow their prescribed regimen. The results of this study have allowed us to begin implementing stroke support groups and pre-discharge follow-up appointment scheduling.