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Involving Informal Caregivers in Discharge Process Lowers Readmissions

On April 3, Healthcare Finance reported hospital readmissions can be reduced by 25 percent when informal caregivers are integrated into the discharge planning process for elderly patients, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Caregivers are unpaid people who provide support for medical tasks and activities critical to a patient who has had a recent hospital or nursing home stay. Two-thirds of caregivers in the study were female, and 61 percent were a spouse or partner; 35 percent were adult children. The study included 4,361 patients with an average age of 70. Researchers found that integrating caregivers into discharge planning resulted in a 25 percent reduction in the risk of readmission with 90 days, and a 24 percent reduction in risk of being readmitted within 180 days. “While integrating informal caregivers into the patient discharge process may require additional efforts to identify and educate a patient’s family member, it is likely to pay dividends through improved patient outcomes and helping providers avoid economic penalties for patient readmissions,” said senior author A. Everette James, director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Health Policy Institute and its Stern Center for Evidence-Based Policy.

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