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Electronic discharge orders vital to avoiding re-hospitalization

March 12, 2013

Avoiding return trips to the hospital is one of the greatest senior health challenges. In fact, a recent Yale University study found that as many as one-fifth of Medicare patients discharged from the hospital are re-admitted within 30 days, often for different reasons. In an effort reduce the number of readmissions, researchers from Intermountain Healthcare analyzed the effectiveness of electronic discharge orders.

The findings, presented at the American College of Cardiology's 62nd Annual Scientific Session, were based on an extensive review of heart failure patients discharged from the hospital between January 2011 and September 2012. The team found that electronic discharge systems, which can help care professionals at home or at assisted living facilities, reduced a person's risk of returning to the hospital by about 23 percent. Specifically, such systems play a vital role in making sure the best practices in heart failure care are followed.

"The tool was designed by our most skilled cardiovascular practitioners to mirror the workflow of the physician and provide evidence-based decision support for cardiovascular care," said lead investigator Jose G. Benuzillo, MA, MS, a senior outcomes analyst at Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City and the study's lead investigator. "Use of this tool reduces variation in practice between the most skilled and experienced specialists in cardiovascular care and more general practitioners who see cardiovascular patients more infrequently."

The results also highlight the important role that services such as short-term rehabilitation and assisted living facilities can play in making sure that seniors enjoy healthy post-hospital care. Whether they entered the hospital due to an injury, surgery or illness, such facilities are a vital part of healthy aging because they offer customized care that meets each individual's needs.