Booking the Appointment: A Strategy to Reduce Readmissions in Heart Failure Patients
Heart failure (HF) is a chronic condition that is the cause for many hospitalizations in the United States. Hospital readmission is a common problem in many chronic conditions, especially heart failure. The purpose of this research was to determine if scheduling a follow-up appointment with a primary care provider (PCP) or cardiologist prior to hospital discharge decreases 30-day readmission rates in patients with a primary diagnosis of HF. A quasi-experimental, two-group study was performed at The Miriam Hospital, a 247-bed acute care hospital, with a sample of 60 patients. A retrospective chart audit was performed to determine if 30-day readmission rates were lower in those HF patients who had a follow-up appointment booked prior to hospital discharge than those who did not have the appointment booked. Charts were reviewed for patients discharged during June, July, August and September 2012. Basic descriptive statistics were performed as well as differences between groups. Thirty-day readmission rates were lower for those who had a follow-up appointment booked (22.58%) compared those who did not have an appointment booked (31.03%). The 30-day readmission rate for those who had an appointment with a PCP was higher than those who followed up with a cardiologist (33.33% versus 7.69%). These findings suggest that booking a follow-up appointment for HF patients with a cardiologist prior to hospital discharge may help to decrease 30-day readmission rates. This simple intervention can be performed by nonclinical, administrative staff and could save hospitals money if even one HF readmission were prevented.