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September 13, 2018

How to Navigate the Challenges of Post Discharge Follow-ups

Post-discharge calls aid in safe patient transitions, help prevent readmissions, and improve patient satisfaction.1  In addition, academic studies show that there is a positive correlation between post-discharge calls and HCAHPS scores.2 Furthermore, a study from the Beryl Institute shows that advanced analytics can provide robust information allowing hospital systems to take actionable steps for operational improvements, resulting in improved patient outcomes.3 Based on these findings, we know that post-discharge follow-ups are a key part of not just the patient experience model, but the entire continuum of care.

Post Discharge Follow-ups

The challenge is that technology solutions can be burdensome to staff, expensive to hospital systems and just another siloed technology. There is also the decision whether to tackle these calls in-house – or via an outsourced team.  Outsourcing has its own set of drawbacks:  lack of integration with patient scheduling, personnel with insufficient patient historical knowledge, and the need for additional hospital staffing to report key data.  The solution needs to provide patient familiarity, workflow to track responses and call-backs, and an easy-to-use interface that isn’t just an add-on, but part of the process from the beginning.

Familiarity Reduces Task Time, Increases Patient Trust

Keep this valuable task in house by leveraging a workflow technology, versus a call center product, that powers patient experience in the hospital and seamlessly shares personal aspects with the post discharge management team.  Integration of the post-discharge call action into the current patient experience process keeps the client care continuum intact with scripting and access to the entire patient story.

In-house staff can quickly reference the patient history and note any areas of concern prior to reaching out.  Why is this important? Access to the entire patient experience when calls are made awards a certain sense of understanding their case to the patient, allowing them to feel comfortable as opposed to rehashing the details of their stay to a new person.

For example, a patient preference note that says the patient likes to be called Charles and not Chuck, are scheduled for a follow up appointment and certain medications upsets the patients stomach is all helpful information on a call.  There is no need for the patient to rehash the details of their stay to a new person.  This allows the call team member to come from a customer service point of view as opposed to just a clinical touchpoint. Another plus—because of the process integration, you will see a decrease in time spent prepping and completing the call!

Product Integration Reduces Cost, Outside Need

Utilize a software where calls can be queued up and integrated with a dialer system allows dashboards to drive priority.  This same dashboard should display special risks, needs, and create efficiencies. With these two processes working hand in hand, team members have valuable information at their fingertips, eliminating any ‘burden’. Previously collected data is available to trend those who may need more help post discharge. 

This same software should offer real-time responsiveness and actionable patient data (such as ‘the patient doesn’t understand his medications’) and launch a follow up action which will in turn provide an additional patient ‘touch’. Opportunities to pinpoint or prevent unfavorable events before they escalate can be identified here. This transparency will lead to the delivery of levels of service that take your hospital system to the next level.

Real-time Actionable Data, Ensures Positive Change

The ability to track and trend almost immediately with dashboards and robust reporting is a must.  Having this knowledge on hand will greatly reduce or prevent adverse events before they escalate.  Based on the above measures, your team is not only likely to increase patient satisfaction scores but also the increase referrals.




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Lauren Walling

Lauren Walling is a graduate of Emory University with a degree in Industrial Psychology, as well as an MBA from the John Sykes School of Business from The University of Tampa. She currently sits on the Board of Fellows at the University of Tampa, and is a member of the Healthcare Business Women's Association, National Association of Professional Women, and the Morton Plant Skip Cline Society. Lauren works with large Healthcare Systems implementing Patient Experience Solutions that streamline processes, increase patient experience and improve quality and safety. 


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