Marketing strategies to reduce hospital readmissions

Medicare’s new rules are penalizing hospitals, home care providers and (soon to come) nursing homes for readmissions to the hospital. Patients with diagnoses such as congestive heart failure (CHF), heart attack and pneumonia who readmit to the hospital within 30 days of discharge will trigger penalties to the providers involved.

It is imperative that you create a marketing strategy that involves helping the various providers in the healthcare continuum reduce hospital readmissions. When creating this strategy, there are a number of tactics you should consider executing.

Hospital CEO Meeting: Meet with senior leadership at your referring hospitals and discuss what they are doing to reduce readmissions. Many hospitals have task forces that include post-acute providers. Volunteer to participate on these task forces. One hospital we met with created a visiting advanced practice nurse program for CHF patients to follow them in the community once they had been discharged. This program was already up and running when we had our CEO meeting, and my client would not have participated in this program if we hadn’t met with them.

Target the ER for Referrals: Potential readmission patients usually arrive at the emergency room for care. Target the case managers responsible for dealing with these patients and present your product or service as a potential solution for the hospital’s challenge. Nursing homes should educate case managers about the 30-day rule regarding patients with three-day qualifying stays, or, who have been recently discharged from another inpatient setting such as nursing home, long-term acute care or acute rehab. Patients in this category can be directly admitted to the skilled nursing facility (SNF). Assisted living and private-duty home care providers also have an opportunity to help the hospital in this situation.

Create Post-Acute Partnerships: SNFs, assisted living providers, home health and private-duty home care providers should create partnerships to help reduce the hospital’s (and their own) risk from readmissions. Using the 30-day rule, SNFs and home health providers can partner to prevent readmissions for patients recently discharged from inpatient settings. Assisted living providers, home health agencies and private duty home care providers can partner to bring more care to a patient in their home or other setting, reducing the risk for readmission.

Partner with LTACs and Acute Rehabs: For the time being, long-term acute care hospitals (LTACs) and acute rehabs are not considered a hospital re-admission. Patients who don’t do well in SNFs or at home after a hospital stay can be admitted directly into these settings and then return, thus preventing a hospital readmission.

One of the benefits of these tactics is that it increases your referrals and admissions because you are working closely with these providers to meet your patients’ or residents’ needs. They will see the increase in referrals from you and in most cases will respond in kind.

Topics: Executive Leadership , Finance , Leadership , Risk Management , Staffing