How Health Coaching Can Help Reduce Hospital Readmissions
Did you know that about one-quarter of unplanned hospital readmissions are potentially avoidable?
In a study of 1,000 patients, researchers identified the four most common factors affecting potentially preventable readmissions:
- “Emergency department decision-making;”
- “Inability to keep appointments after discharge;”
- “Premature discharge from the hospital;” and
- “Patient lack of awareness of whom to contact after discharge.”
Researchers concluded that there are some high-priority areas for improvement: improved communications between healthcare providers and patients, greater attention to patients’ readiness for discharges, enhanced disease monitoring, and better support for patient self-management.
In fact, the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform (CHQPR) has outlined three broader categories of types of readmissions to focus on. They include:
- Readmissions for complications or infections arising directly from the initial hospital stay.
- Readmissions because of poorly managed transitions during discharge, such as unclear instructions from the healthcare provider.
- Readmissions because of a recurrence of a chronic condition that led to the initial hospitalization.
With respect to poorly managed transitions – and more specifically, improved communications and support for self-management – there is one solution with some proven potential for success: health coaching.
In one study of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), hospital readmissions were reduced among people who participated in health coaching: during the first month, readmissions rates were reduced by 7.5%, followed by 11% at three and six months post-discharge – the time when reduction rates peaked.
And healthcare providers are catching on to the positive effect health coaching can have on hospital readmission. Earlier this year, Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Massachusetts launched an app-based initiative to help prevent readmission in the hospital’s cardiology department. Last fall, City Health Works and Mount Sinai St. Luke’s launched a one-year pilot to help reduce readmissions for patients with congestive heart failure. In this pilot, 100 eligible Medicaid patients are receiving individualized health coaching to enable them to self-manage their conditions at home.
As more hospitals and healthcare systems are catching on to the power of health coaching, it’s important to understand the role this level of care can play in patients’ lives, both in and out of the hospital. The accountability and trust may be the missing piece that patients can benefit from when they need help the most.
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.