Location of Patients is Impacting Hospital Readmission Rates

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When it’s time for a patient to undergo joint replacement surgery oftentimes readmission rate affects the choice of which hospital they decide to have the procedure at. Readmission rate measures unplanned readmissions, both related and unrelated to the procedure, following elective hip or knee replacement within 30 days of being discharged from the hospital1 so it’s unsurprising that most hospitals strive to achieve a lower rate. New research has found that there is an interesting factor contributing to why patients are returning to the emergency room following joint surgery.

According to a new study from the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York City and the Ochsner Clinic in New Orleans, patients who live close to the hospital are much more likely to visit the emergency room for follow-up care of pain, inflammation and other issues than those who live farther away.2 This is understandable as it’s simply more difficult to travel all the way to their surgeon’s office if it is nowhere near the patient’s home. ‘”Intuition would say that they came to the ER because it’s available,” said Bradford S. Waddell, M.D., a hip and knee surgeon at HSS, who led the study. “Everybody is hurting after knee and hip surgery, but if you have easy access to the ER you’re just going to pop on in.”’2 Aided by the introduction of electronic medical records, Dr. Waddell decided to investigate after noticing an increase in communications to physicians by email and phone.

The authors collected data from 4,003 surgeries and then organized that data according to how far patients lived from the hospital where they had their joint surgery. Patients who lived close to their hospitals had 7% more clinic visits than patients who live far from their hospital. Digging deeper, the researchers found that patients who lived close to their hospital and patients who lived a medium distance from their hospital had 36% and 28% more emergency department presentations than patients who lived far from their hospital. Finally, the researchers noted that the close by and medium distance patients had 62% and 24% more hospital readmissions than the ‘far’ distance group, respectively.2 These findings are interesting when considering how wearable medical devices may eventually have an impact on lower readmission rates in the future.

Asked about a particular language that might be helpful in counseling patients, Dr. Waddell told OTW, “Basically, explaining that while one day you will be extremely happy you had a joint replacement, the healing process can be quite rigorous and painful. We have opened lines of communication so that the patients are more likely to call us before appearing to the ER.”2 Medical wearable devices like TracPatch may be just the mechanism for opening the lines of communication between patient and surgeon.

TracPatch is a two-piece device that attaches to a patient’s leg, above and below the knee, after a total knee replacement surgery. It continuously collects activity data including range of motion (ROM), exercise compliance, wound site temperature trends and ambulation, through a centralized app, and sends it to the healthcare provider who is then able to review and track patient progress. With the TracPatch app, a new line of communication has been opened between a surgeon and patient, that never existed before. TracPatch was designed to be the link between a surgeon and patient throughout the entire episode of care. The device allows the surgeon to remotely monitor the patient, review and evaluate progress and make any recommendations or changes at the press of a button. With unfettered access to clinical, wellness and reporting analytics and a new method of remote communication, TracPatch may be just the tool to increase efficiency and help lower hospital readmission rates in the future. For more information about TracPatch contact us today.

References

  1. Readmission Rates. Retrieved August 22, 2019, from https://www.hss.edu/quality-hip-knee-readmission-rates.asp
  2. Hofheinz, E. (2019, April 3). Large Joints Feature. Retrieved August 22, 2019, from https://ryortho.com/breaking/surprising-new-reason-for-hospital-readmission-rates/
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