Commentary: Better Communication For Improved Outcomes, Reduced Readmissions

Andrew Brooks | Government Health IT | April 26, 2013

Despite having one of the most technically advanced healthcare systems in the world, the United States continues to struggle with the most basic of tasks — efficient communication and care coordination amongst different providers.

Poor communication shows up most glaringly with readmissions which the Wall Street Journal recently wrote is “a vexing problem” that costs Medicare an estimated $26 billion every year and affects nearly one in five beneficiaries.

Transitioning a patient from the hospital to the home is a tenuous time and not enough focus is given to this seemingly mundane period in the care of a patient. As an orthopedic surgeon, I can state unequivocally that the post-hospitalization period is a vulnerable time that requires rethinking. The current mindset is to get the patient out of the hospital and hope their discharge follow-up magically works to transition them seamlessly into outpatient care. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Patients do not get what they need, and the lack of communication and coordination falls squarely on the hospital and providers.