PROVIDENCE – A study released Friday by Healthcentric Advisors found that implementing and adhering to communications guidelines can drastically improve how information is transferred from hospitals to outpatient primary care physicians.
In a new release, the nonprofit said it collaborated with local health care providers, health plans, state agencies and other stakeholders to develop communication standards. It then worked with 10 hospitals to monitor adherence to the guidelines.
Researchers said that auditing hospitals’ adherence to the standards and providing staff with periodic reports comparing their facility’s performance to the rest of group’s progress “significantly” increased the rate at which hospital staff communicated necessary information to outpatient physicians.
Among the findings, the researchers noted:
Clinical information sent at discharge increased from 30 percent to 94 percent.
Hospital clinicians’ contact information provided at discharge increased from 63 percent to 97 percent.
Notification of hospitalization increased from 82 percent to 87 percent.
The frequency that hospital staff scheduled follow-up appointments within one business day of discharge jumped from 55 percent to 90 percent.
“These communication processes seem very logistical and intuitive,” said Rosa Baier, senior scientist at Healthcentric Advisors and lead author of the study. “Most people assume that this type of communication is already occurring, and are really surprised to learn how much it varies from one clinician to another, even at the same hospital. An intervention like this one allows staff to see how well their hospital is performing and then use that information to improve.”
The study was funded by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Findings of the study were published in the Journal of Hospital Administration on Tuesday, Aug. 26.