Managing high rates of hospital readmissions

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Bruce Baron
Bruce Baron

The Affordable Care Act levies penalties against hospitals for excessive readmissions. Such readmissions are often unnecessary, avoidable and surprisingly costly to eldercare providers. 


According to a recent study by NEHI – a national health policy institute, entitled Improving Medication Adherence and Reducing Hospital Readmissions almost 20% of hospitalized Medicare beneficiaries are readmitted within 30 days – of which over half are potentially avoidable. A significant portion of hospital readmissions are caused by non-compliance to care plans.


Eldercare providers dependent on a high census level to ensure profitability and sustainability are adversely affected by hospital readmissions. The return of seniors to hospitals leaves beds and apartments empty and causes census levels to drop.  


To combat readmissions, many hospitals are testing new models for hospital discharge that essentially seek to restore the continuity in care that years ago were provided by family doctors and community based support groups. These models often include additional medical visits and multiple calls to seniors in the high-risk category for readmissions - to ensure they are following their care plans.


At VoiceFriend, we endorse these additional communications to encourage and support conformance to care plans for discharged hospital patients. However, to make these “touchpoints” more cost effective, we believe that appropriate, program specific, automated communications – including telephone calls, text messages and email can be effective encouragement to improve care plan adherence. Additionally, devices that can speak care plan reminders at the push of a button are also an effective, low cost solution. 


At various VoiceFriend clients, community staff send automated conformance to care plan message reminders.  These simple reminder messages are often enough to ensure care plan compliance, thereby reducing hospital readmissions, keeping seniors healthy and positively impacting census levels. 


Bruce Baron is CEO of VoiceFriend. He can be reached at   


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