Originally Published in VoiceFriend Newsletter, December 2014

Hospitals have a large financial incentive to ensure care plans are followed – as readmission penalties can cost millions of dollars. These large institutions often deploy multiple teams just to make outbound calls to discharged patients to ensure that their care plans are understood.

Rehabilitation centers and home health agencies face a similar challenge to hospitals. While no penalties are currently assessed, centers and agencies have a two-fold incentive to ensure care plans are followed:

  1. Discharged patients who remain healthy are more likely to have a positive opinion about the care they received while in rehabilitation and thus more likely to recommend your services to others.

  2. Rehabilitation service providers who are able to show a lower readmission rate to hospitals are more likely to gain additional referrals from the hospitals.

Follow up calls and visits – while important – can be costly. Given the reimbursement pressure rehab centers and home health agencies are experiencing, these additional costs may be difficult to absorb in the short term.

There is an alternative that many innovative healthcare providers are choosing. Automated telephone, text and email reminders that encourage their discharged patients to follow their care plans are gaining traction in the marketplace as a low cost alternative to complement calls and visits by nurses. These automated communications increase patient engagement and provide timely information.

At VoiceFriend, we endorse this approach and can help develop program specific or individual communications for discharged patients. Additionally, VoiceFriend offers effective, low cost solutions, such as:

  1. An On Demand Service which enables patients to call in at any time to hear their care plans.

  2. The VoiceFriend Companion device which can be placed at the home of a discharged patient and speaks care plan reminders at the push of a button.

Reducing hospital readmissions is a critically important opportunity for rehabilitation providers to increase their importance to their hospital partners and improve patient referrals. Automated care plan reminders are a powerful tool to reduce readmissions and improve patient satisfaction.

Bruce Baron is CEO of VoiceFriend. VoiceFriend is the leader in providing messaging services for eldercare providers and hospitals. For more information on solutions to reduce OT expenses, make staff more productive and increase compliance to care plans, please contact VoiceFriend at 781-996-3123 or email us at sales@voicefriend.net.