It also found that patient discharge summaries were sent to the patient's primary care physician only 23.5% of the time and that only 32.1% of hospitals reported conducting follow-up reviews to ensure that patients saw their primary care physicians within seven days of being discharged.
Better Followup Seen
In the follow-up study, 437 hospitals who responded showed marked improvement in several areas. It showed that 30.7% of hospitals were partnering with other hospitals to reduce readmissions compared to 22.9% in 2012 and that 61.1% of hospitals scheduled follow-up appointments for patients before they were discharged compared to 52.4% in 2012.
The new study also found that more hospitals had adopted a formal procedure for assessing a patient's risk of being readmitted (34.6% vs. 22.5%) and that more hospitals were providing post-care action plans for patients upon discharge (60% vs. 52.2%) and calling patients after discharge to follow-up on their care plans (71.4% vs. 62.9%).
Curry said the improvements show that hospitals are getting better at following patients once they leave the hospital.
"The care transition process is extremely complex because there are so many inherent vulnerabilities," said Curry. "Even if you conduct a thorough review when a patient is discharged and do everything correctly, you can never fully anticipate the problems patients can encounter once they leave the four walls of the hospital."