Improving Readmission Rates with Innovative Patient Service

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The Problem

Like many hospitals across the country, Tidelands Health in South Carolina needed a solution that would help them lower readmission rates for recently-discharged patients. Stipulations of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) had them facing reduced reimbursements and hefty penalties if they could not meet the ACA metrics for reducing readmissions among Medicare heart failure, heart attack, pneumonia, elective knee or hip replacements and lung ailments patients.

A Deeper Level of Patient Care

The 298-bed hospital system was already successfully using the Service Response Center (SRC), an innovative customer service program which allows hospitals to offer a deeper level of patient care. SRC serves patients by attending to their non-clinical needs, complementing the clinical care they receive and offering an outstanding patient experience. In today’s healthcare landscape of increasingly important HCAHPS scores, SRC is an excellent solution for improving patient satisfaction and solidifying patient loyalty.

Because of the comprehensive service the SRC was already delivering to Tidelands Health patients, it was a natural fit for implementing a post-discharge pilot program for the hospital’s recently-discharged patients.

In conjunction with the Tidelands Health Transition Care Team, SRC agents followed up via phone calls with these patients the day after discharge to ascertain that the patients understood and could meet their post-hospital orders for optimal recovery.

Excellent Customer Service, Optimal Patient Outcome

By using the SRC to serve patients with a deeper level of care, Tidelands Health lowered their readmission rates by a staggering 40% in less than six months, reducing a previous rate of 14.9% to 9% after implementing the discharge program in the SRC.

Monica Grey, Associate VP Transitional Care at Tidelands Health, said the SRC has become an integral part of the hospital’s commitment to holistic patient care.

“[Tidelands Health] has had the opportunity to partner with [the] Service Response Center in an innovative readmission prevention strategy of centralized post-discharge phone calls. Aligning clinical and ancillary teams through a scripted and timely follow-up call, this service has enabled Tidelands Health to identify and meet the needs of our patients post-discharge. This service aligns with our goal of continuing service to our patients beyond the hospital walls, providing us with a real-time opportunity for ensuring excellence in customer service while supporting optimal patient outcomes.”

Lower readmission rates translate directly to dollars for the hospital, ensuring that their Medicare reimbursements remain intact and avoiding significant penalties. But lower readmission rates also translate to patients that are recovering and lives that are getting back on track after illness, an important indication of success in the hospital’s population health management strategy. With SRC, Tidelands Health is caring for the whole patient, better.

“This service … [provides] us with a real-time opportunity for ensuring excellence in customer service while supporting optimal patient outcomes.” — Monica Gray, Associate VP Transitional Care, Tidelands Health