The federal government’s readmission penalties of up to three percent on hospitals will reach a new high as Medicare withholds more than half a billion dollars in payments in 2017. The government will punish more than half of the nation’s hospitals — a total of 2,597 — having more patients than expected return within a month. While that is about the same number penalized last year, the average penalty will increase by 20%.
Fact is, reducing unplanned hospital readmissions has become a high priority for healthcare systems and home health providers nationwide. Each year, nearly 20 percent of Medicare beneficiaries are readmitted to hospitals within 30 days of discharge. The federal government has estimated that 836,000 readmissions are considered unnecessary and avoidable. These avoidable readmissions will directly cost healthcare providers an estimated $528 million dollars in CMS penalties this year.
Chronic conditions including CHF, COPD, Diabetes among others are all major contributors. The good news is that many such conditions exhibit early warning signs that, if identified and responded to immediately, can easily avoid unnecessary readmissions.
“When patients are hospitalized, they rely upon the nurse call button to request immediate nurse assistance. Once they go home, however, that simple support mechanism is gone…until now,” states Kathleen Holohan, Home Health Director with SafeGuardian.
SafeGuardian’s CareCaller technology is available to hospitals, healthcare organizations and home health providers nationwide. It is designed to increase patient communication and reduce avoidable and unnecessary patient readmissions. How? It gives the patient the ability to directly call their visiting nurse, home health provider, or a 24/7 nurse assist hotline. This may be a call to ask a question about their medical condition(s), confirm medications, schedule/reschedule follow-up appointments, report a worsening condition, or to request urgent nurse assistance.
One press of the CareCaller’s large “SOS” button is all it takes to directly call – and text message – up to five pre-programmed provider numbers. Once activated, the patient will be immediately connected to their home healthcare professional using the built-in two-way speakerphone. If necessary, a nurse can even call the patient’s CareCaller™ directly in case the patient does not have a phone or has limited mobility.
“Studies are clearly showing that nurse/patient communication before, during and following discharge must be an integral component to significantly reduce unnecessary readmissions,” continues Holohan. “Providing patients with a simple inexpensive CareCaller home health or visiting nurse call button can easily save tens of thousands of dollars for each and every avoidable admission – or readmission. An impressive return on investment for a device that only costs $15/mo.”
Healthcare companies have already confirmed that patients will use the Nurse CareCaller to call their home health provider or visiting nurse for assistance before needing to call 911. In most cases, the CareCaller can alert a patient’s home health provider to problems or situations before the patient involves a EMS dispatch, emergency department visit and resulting hospital admission. Avoiding an unplanned ER visit by addressing the medical issue(s) at the patient’s home, home healthcare providers can also prevent the resulting hospital admission.
SafeGuardian offers custom home healthcare models, private label packaging, discounted group purchasing and service plans for all sizes of professional home healthcare providers. To learn more, watch our Informative CareCaller Video or visit SafeGuardian’s web site.