Research confirms that discharge instructions can improve patient adherence to treatment and reduce readmissions. This was the focus of Dr. Chris Galassi, Discharge 1-2-3’s CEO and Product Director, during his presentation on Advancements in Discharge Instructions and Patient Education at the recent Allcripts Client Experience conference in Boston.
Dr. Galassi cited research that showed patients often don’t understand how to take care of themselves. An Institute of Medicine study states that ninety million Americans have difficulty understanding their own medical care. Several studies suggest that 40-80 percent of the medical information communicated by health care practitioners in the doctor’s office is completely forgotten by the time the patient gets home and that half of the information is recalled incorrectly. According to research published in Academic Emergency Medicine in 2012, patients have demonstrated particular difficulty in understanding post ED care instructions. A Journal of Emergency Nursing study indicated that despite patients’ high stated levels of satisfaction with communication in the emergency department, over half of patients failed to comply with important discharge information.
Another problem is that discharge instructions are often written at an inappropriate reading level. Numerous studies document that health-related materials exceed the average user’s reading ability. According to a 2013 article in Journal of Emergency Nursing, although it is recommended that ED discharge documents be written at a sixth-grade reading level, previous studies have indicated that these documents typically are written at a 9th to 10th grade reading level.
Good discharge instructions can contribute to improved outcomes. Numerous studies support the conclusion that clear communications reduce knowledge deficits. In one study a VA hospital cut its 14-day readmission rate dramatically by introducing automated discharge instructions.
Dr. Galassi showed relevant evidence that good patient-specific discharge instructions:
• Reduce readmission rates for the same condition
• Improve quality of patient care
• Improve patient satisfaction
• Improve financial health of the hospital
• Reduce risk and liability for the hospital and clinicians
• Support compliance
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