FOR RELEASE: 12/23/2010Contact: John Cappiello, (203) 384-3637

Bridgeport Hospital to study effectiveness of post-discharge phone calls in cutting readmission rates among heart failure patients

Bridgeport Hospital has launched a one-year study to determine the effectiveness of post-discharge phone calls in increasing overall patient satisfaction and reducing the readmission rate among congestive heart failure (CHF) patients.

The study is supported by a grant from the Beryl Institute, an organization that serves as a resource for healthcare providers in sharing patient satisfaction strategies and best practices. Bridgeport Hospital is one of only 10 organizations in the nation to receive a Beryl Institute grant this year.

“Research already shows that post-discharge phone calls are valuable to patients and healthcare providers by providing an opportunity to review discharge instructions, reduce patient anxiety and reduce the potential for complaints,” explains Bridgeport Hospital Director of Patient Relations Lynn Charbonneau.

Bridgeport Hospital launched its Post-Discharge Phone call Program in February 2010. It uses a team of 14 paid student nurses, most from the hospital’s own School of Nursing. The program operates seven days a week and successfully contacts 90 percent of all discharged inpatients and Emergency Department treat-and-release patients within 24 to 48 hours of discharge.

The goal of the program is to ensure that patients understand their discharge instructions, including medication use and follow-up appointments with their doctors, and recognize possible worsening symptoms—ultimately decreasing readmissions and improving patient satisfaction.

“Student nurses are ideally suited to this role,” Charbonneau explains. “They have a natural enthusiasm for interacting with patients, education in the fundamentals of nursing and clinical exposure to patient care. “In addition, the experience is likely to have a positive impact on the care they will one day provide to their patients.”

During the calls, the student nurses enter patient information into an online scripted survey. The data is organized on a weekly basis and sent to the appropriate hospital staff members for review. If immediate follow-up is needed, the data is sent to the patient care unit manager, with a copy forwarded to the Patient Relations Department.

Given the success of the Post-Discharge Phone Call Program to date, the hospital will adapt it to reduce readmissions and increase satisfaction among CHF patients. The grant funding will pay for the development of new survey questions, enhancement of the program’s database to accommodate CHF patient data and analysis of the data collected for a full year.

“The Post-Discharge Phone Call Program has given us timely feedback about our patients’ hospital experience so we can address issues in need of immediate attention,” says Charbonneau. “Our call associates have been able to help many patients obtain medications they otherwise could not afford and make and keep follow-up visits with their doctors. The calls also give patients who are home alone the opportunity to have a therapeutic conversation.”

Bridgeport Hospital is a 425-bed acute care teaching hospital serving Connecticut’s most populous city and surrounding towns. The hospital provides care to 20,000 inpatients and receives more than 240,000 outpatient visits each year at its main campus and satellite locations.

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