The nurse's phone call after surgery addresses hydration specifically, urging patients to drink water and educating them on how to recognize dehydration so that it can be treated promptly.
MetroWest also instituted a plan for hydrating postop patients in its outpatient clinics before they got to the point of needing hospitalization.
"The hydration effort is a good example of how you lower readmissions by looking for those problems that just get worse and cause the patient to spiral down until hospitalization is the only choice," Prentice says. "Patients will have some issues like that after surgery, but the key is to identify them and respond before it gets out of control."
Gregory A. Freeman is a contributing writer for HealthLeaders.