- CATEGORIES: Charu Raheja, PhD,Doctors and Hospitals,Improve Your Practice,Nurses,Ravi Raheja, MD
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Part 2 of a Series: How Nurse Triage Helps After Patient Discharge
Last week we discussed the high hospital re-admissions rate and a plan to help decrease the number of patients that come back to the hospital within one month of their previous stay.
A review of why hospital readmissions occur shows that poor post discharge patient follow-up is one of the top reasons patients come back to the hospital. Hospitals and practices decrease patient readmissions by following this two part process:(1)Review discharge instructions with the patient after patient gets home and (2) Give patients access to a trained medical professional 24/7.
How can hospitals implement a discharge process in a cost effective, manageable way?
Implementing Post-Discharge Follow-up
A. Use nurses trained in triage for discharge instructions: An important consideration is that patients often ask medical questions when receiving the phone call post discharge. The medical professional needs to be trained in triage and be prepared to handle questions and determine if the symptoms presented by the patient are normal and expected from the procedure, not related to the procedure, and if they they require special attention or follow up.
B. Increase patient access to nurses for medical questions: Nurses need to be available (including nights, weekends, and holidays) to answer patient questions after the hospital visit. This is important because having a medical person available gives patients the confidence to stay home and ask questions when a symptom arises. This prevents smaller symptoms to be addressed before they worsen and it prevents patients from going back to the ER because they are worried and unsure. Giving access to trained nurses can be done in two ways:
- Hospitals have the option of training their own nurses to make outbound calls using standardized protocols for patient questions and then having their own triage nurse available for patient call requests. This has the advantage of having nurses that are familiar with the hospital system and with the doctors who took care of the patients. At the same time, having its own staff available requires hospitals to not only commit to the capital expenses but also to management time, nurse training and supervision, etc.
- Another alternative for Hospitals is to use an outsourced nurse triage service. Telephone nurse triage services, such as TriageLogic’s Nurse Triage on Call train and staff Registered Nurses 24/7 to handle patient calls. Triage nurses can also make outbound calls following patient discharge. When using an outsourced nurse triage service, the discharge physician can provide customized follow up instruction to the nurse handling follow up calls. Nurses perform outbound calls to patients to follow up after a hospital visit, walk through care instructions, answer questions, and evaluate any symptoms. As part of the service nurses can be available for patients to call in at all times- even on nights and weekends. Providers receive reports from the triage nurse following patient interactions to allow for follow ups and continuity of care.
Studies have shown that, when patients receive proper follow-up after discharge, they are less likely to be readmitted to the hospital and are more confident and satisfied with the care provided to them. Telephone nurse triage used for patient discharge follow-up drastically reduces patient confusion, hospital readmissions, and overall cost of care while also guaranteeing full continuity and high quality of patient care.
What to read next:How Nurse Triage Helps After Patient Discharge Part 1
 Budryk, Zack (10/13/2013), Follow-up With Patients After Discharge, Retrieved from: http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/special-reports/follow-patients-after-discharge