As part of the Affordable Care Act and overall health reforms currently underway in the US, there has been an ongoing focus to reduce readmission rates. Under the Hospital Readmission Reduction Program (HRRP), hospitals face a monetary penalty for patients readmitted within 30 days and Home Health agencies are under additional pressure to minimize readmissions during home care episodes. Hospitals are looking to care transition partners to decrease avoidable readmissions and the penalties associated with them.
A number of programs have been put in place industry wide to address the readmission issue, including improved discharge planning and confirmation of patient’s follow up appointments. However, there is still significant room for improvement. Data from Healthcom’s CareLink medical alert program has recorded favorable case results avoiding readmission in three out of four patients who use the CareLink system. CareLink is able to help patients (and providers) avoid many readmissions because of situations that can be resolved by caregivers and emergency responders, rather than requiring a trip to the hospital. Memorial Home Services in Illinois, for example, was able to avoid transport to the hospital in 83.5 percent of the cases where a patient utilized their CareLink system for help.
Healthcom is now introducing the CareLink Connect program, in which patients transitioning from acute-care settings (such as a hospital or skilled nursing facility) to their home, are given a free mobile nurse help button. This button can be used to connect them immediately to their homecare nurse team, family caregiver or medical authorities’ 24-hours a day, 7-days a week. This allows quick access to healthcare professionals or responsible caregivers when important healthcare decisions are being made.