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Reduce Readmissions by Activating Patients to Do 'Self-Care'

Tinker Ready, April 10, 2014

The push is on to target patients who need help with self-care, which is key to lowering hospital readmission rates. A tool to measure "patient activation" offers healthcare providers a way to look beyond the bedside to assist patients.

Editor's note: Cheryl Clark is on vacation.

Some patients follow doctors' orders. Some don't.

For years, hospitals and health systems have been trying to find ways to improve patient compliance when it comes to follow-up care. But, terms like "orders" and "compliance" feel outdated in the age of patient engagement. These days, many patients object to being ordered around and insist on working with doctors and transition teams on a personalized recovery plan.

Others are happy to accept a care plan; they just have trouble following through. Now, researchers and providers are finding new ways to look beyond the bedside to assist patients most likely to skip meds or develop post-op infections.

The goal is to improve the quality of care while reducing costly readmissions. So, the push is on to target patients who need help with the self-care, which is key to a full recovery.

Some hospitals are taking the big data route, mining electronic health records for clues to the type of patient most likely to be readmitted. But, if the key is to encourage self-care, the answer may be as low-tech as a survey. New research suggests that a tool to measure "patient activation" offers a way to reduce readmissions.

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