The Hospitalist, March 2009: New Design for Discharge–Four-part process improves patient outcomes, lowers readmission rates
With hospitalists playing key roles in improving transitions in care, a new study has tested a low-cost process that shows increases in outpatient follow-up and completed workups soon after hospital discharge. The improvements potentially could lead to better patient outcomes and lower readmission rates, according to Richard B. Balaban, MD, who as the medical director of Cambridge Health Alliance’s (CHA) Somerville, Mass., primary-care center and a hospitalist at CHA’s Cambridge Hospital has a unique, dual perspective on the discharge process. Dr. Balaban’s team’s discharge-transfer intervention process, tested in one of the few randomized controlled studies on the subject of transitions of care, is intended to improve communication between hospitalists and primary-care providers, as well as promptly connect inpatients to outpatient providers. It’s also designed to better equip patients to participate in their care and to improve accountability within the medical team.