By J’Nel Wright
On a scale of 1 to 5, how are your post-discharge calls working?
When you need an honest response about a patient’s experience at your facility, you ask the patient. That is one of the reasons why healthcare providers engage in follow-up phone calls to recently-released patients. But the information gathered during a post-discharge call and the value of the call itself mean more than merely giving a healthcare provider a thumbs up or thumbs down. Let’s discuss the value of a well-executed post-discharge call and why coordinating with a third-party group to handle them offers surprise benefits for your office.
The Purpose of Post-discharge Calls
“The earlier post-discharge calls are made, the more they can benefit patients,” says Sarah Hilton, RN, director of advisory services for skilled nursing at Osmond Marketing. “Facilities can troubleshoot any obstacles that haven’t been foreseen before discharge, answer medication questions or issues to prevent missed doses or confusion in instructions, calm anxiety, and acclimate patients to their new environment by providing the social and medical support and encouragement they need.”
How to Add Value to Post-discharge Calls
For a post-discharge call to be effective, timing is everything. A study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) confirmed that patient feedback is an essential component of effective patient management. But how you collect that information, who is asking, and how quickly the data is collected can impact the results.
Experts recommend using a third-party to handle post-discharge calls. “Using collaboration with an outsourced vendor to bring state-of-the-art call technology and staffed with specially trained callers, health systems can achieve elevated levels of engagement and satisfaction for their patients post-discharge,” the study concluded.
According to Nursing Administration Quarterly, some of the challenges that impact the patient’s post-discharge experience when the hospital handles feedback themselves include the following:
Timeliness: Experts believe that post-discharge calls placed within the first 24 hours of a patient being released from the facility “are most effective in not only being able to reach the patient for follow-up but also in creating a greater sense of satisfaction.” Due to limited staff and increased responsibilities, calls often take longer to initiate.
Objectivity: Sometimes, those placing the calls are biased when recording patient responses that may reflect negatively on the care staff or the facility overall.
Organizing and Interpreting Data: The process of gathering data and interpreting results is a time-consuming process. Many facilities lack the time and resources to routinely complete the process and update results.
The Solution to Post-discharge Call Challenges? Third-Party Service Providers
Most healthcare providers handle post-discharge calls themselves. But the time and staff needed to develop screening questionnaires, implement a call schedule, monitor responses, and sustain an effective call program is an ongoing challenge and very time-consuming.
“Utilization of an outsourced call program is one way to ensure that the goals and objectives of the organization are achieved but not at the cost of staff retention and turnover,” according to the NIH study. “In addition, patient satisfaction should increase when calls are made by staff who have the training and time to address their concerns.”
At Osmond Marketing, we understand how important it is to have accurate and current data so you can make informed decisions on ways to improve services. That is why we are equipped to handle these essential patient management functions for you.
As a third-party service provider, we can ensure follow-up calls are timely and that the information collected is focused on the patient’s needs or concerns and on exploring ways to constantly improve patient care delivery systems.
Call us to learn more about the services we provide.