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Issuing patient discharge summary drops odds of hospital readmission

Philadelphia-area hospitals participating in a patient readmission study saw a 7% drop in 30-day, same-facility readmissions if they provided a patient discharge summary complete with data pulled from an electronic health record (EHR) system. For the 18 participating hospitals, this amounted to 400 unnecessary readmissions and $4 million in savings in the third quarter of 2011.

The 18-month study, part of the Philadelphia-based Health Care Improvement Foundation’s Preventing Avoidable Episodes (PAVE) Project, also found interest among participants in developing a regional health information organization (RHIO), according to InformationWeek Healthcare.

In this mode of health information exchange, hospitals could more readily share a patient discharge summary with physicians, nursing homes, home health agencies and insurers. Collectively, such data sharing could further reduce readmissions, the foundation notes.

However, there was one thing that issuing a patient discharge summary could not encourage — patient use of personal health record (PHR) systems. In fact, PHR adoption is so low that participating hospitals have opted instead to prepare a paper booklet to give to heart failure patients upon discharge. This booklet provides the patient education and daily weight tracking resources one would expect to see in a PHR service — only in a format patients will actually use.

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