Outsourcing Discharge Follow-up Calls Keep Nurses at the Bedside

Mark Williard, for HealthLeaders Media , October 5, 2009

Many organizations are finding the right post-discharge program can help meet these challenges. A 200-plus bed Midwest hospital implemented a proactive call program for discharged ED patients and found a significant relationship between post-discharge calls and satisfaction scores. The chart below depicts the feedback generated based on a survey of 125 ED patients discharged between April 1 and June 30, 2009.

The scores represented here for overall rating shows the percent of patients who reported good, very good, or excellent care overall. The 'would recommend' data shows the percent of patients who said they would "yes, definitely" recommend the hospital to friends and family. Patients who received post-discharge calls were more likely to report good or better ratings of their overall care than their counterparts, and were more than 25% more likely to recommend the hospital.

One Florida hospital that aggressively used an outsourced call center strategy to manage inquiries from discharged patients uncovered an additional financial incentive. It estimated that it saved more than $11 million in one year by providing appropriate telephone triage that prevented readmissions.

From both the financial perspective and the quest to drive clinical quality, providing proper patient follow-up demands special focus and a selective strategy in order to reduce this common burden on nursing staff. If handled well, nurses and patients both benefit.

Mark Williard is senior vice president of Beryl, a healthcare-exclusive call center, where he oversees product management to support more than 450 hospitals, health systems, and private practices' call center programs. For more information, visit www.beryl.net/.
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