A new set of protocols has been found to be effective in reducing the number of patient readmissions following their initial discharge.

The Re-engineered Discharge Toolkit

Researchers at the Boston University Medical Center have established the Re-engineered Discharge Toolkit, or “RED.” The researchers amended and expanded on a list of proactive steps aimed at limiting patient readmissions.

While researching and writing the steps included in RED, enhanced emphasis was placed on cross-cultural differences. The researchers examined the ways in which healthcare is viewed differently depending on the cultural background of patients. Much of the re-engineering aspect of their work came in the form of increased focus on communication prior to patient discharge. Specifically, they focused on the issues that can arise in the event of a language barrier.

Following discharge, a patient must take greater responsibility for their own care. In order to do this, they must be well-versed on the appropriate care-related behavior that is expected from them by the healthcare professionals who are approving their discharge.

The RED steps outline the procedures for making sure patients understand proper behavior following discharge, including how and where to obtain necessary medications, as well as how and when to take them. Furthermore, a variety of follow-up measures subsequent to patient discharge are aimed at avoiding relapses due to forgetfulness or negligence on the part of patients.

The Proven Results of RED

When put into application, the new RED steps were deemed to be successful in lowering readmission rates. According to the researchers, RED resulted in a 30 percent reduction in hospitalization utilization within 30 days of patient discharge. The researchers also saw a 34-percent reduction in per-patient costs during that time period as well.

These results serve as a positive reminder of what increased efficiency measures within the healthcare system can do for both patient health and healthcare provider productivity.