The discharge process for patients still remains a difficult obstacle for healthcare providers. Not just because it’s hard to discharge patients and hope that they remember their care instructions, but also because facilities want to improve their outcomes. It’s important that the patient discharges goes well and sets up patients for success. Patients are generally happy to be discharged and often overlook the instructions given to them because of the focus on simply getting home. The days of the doctors giving paper instructions and expecting patients to comply are over – patients need so much more than that now.

The healthcare environment is more complicated than it has ever been, with the discharge instructions being taken as a novel. Medicine has come incredibly far, but there are still struggles when it comes to discharge instructions for patients. It’s both the carers and patients responsibly to understand their care and discharge instructions, especially when transitioning from hospital care to their home. It’s understandable that patients can often forget the instructions for exercises that are given to them, but it doesn’t reduce the readmission rate, nor is it any less frustrating. 

On top of patient forgetfulness, it’s essential to consider that the instructions themselves may not be very clear. Poor discharge instructions can have some severe consequences, with 20% of Medicare patients dealing with readmission within 30 days of discharge. The statistics here show that almost 80% of the readmissions to hospital after discharge could have been avoided – and that figure is not acceptable to most healthcare facilities.

Technology To The Rescue

Discharge communications are vital for patient aftercare and the outcomes of the health facility that has performed the discharge in the first place. It’s essential to help patients  manage their own care as much as possible when they have been discharged. The problem is that when instructions left with patients are unclear, the readmission rate goes up. 

It’s up to the healthcare facility in question to ensure that the instructions for discharge have been understood clearly, as when there is non-comprehension of discharge instructions, there is a decrease in compliance. This then leads to poor health outcomes for patients, and it’s for this reason that hospitals and clinics have been experimenting with technology to communicate patient discharge instructions. Let’s examine the ways that patient discharge instructions can be improved. 

AC Health

One such experiment with technology includes AC Health. AC Health is a patient engagement platform that healthcare providers can use to assign personalized instructions for patients to take home via the mobile app. With AC Health, patients won’t need to worry about forgetting their instructions as they can be available on their app as many times as they need to refresh their memory. The instructions are also uniquely personalized for the patient using video, audio, images or text, making for a much better patient experience.

Patient Interviews

In some teaching hospitals, junior residents are set on getting a patient history that is comprehensive. They will talk to patients for hours and learn as much about them as possible. Information is shared with their residents and seniors to develop a care plan that is focused and personalized. As it stands, the discharge procedure is rushed through. By the time the patient is ready to go home, a doctor who doesn’t understand their needs is quickly getting them out of the facility. This drastically affects the rate of readmission, as patients aren’t given clear enough instructions on what to do next. The best way to improve patient discharge instructions here is to ensure that patients have consistency with the doctors they see for their care. 

Discharge Aftercare

Communication is important, and one way to ensure that patients are compliant about their care is to consistently follow up. Healthcare providers who are telephoning patients within two weeks of discharge can ascertain whether instructions are being adhered to and whether any directions are unclear. Patients often feel embarrassed about asking for help, and by contacting the patient directly, healthcare providers can get the information that they need to help them after they’ve been discharged. 

Medications & Instructions Ahead Of Time

If healthcare facilities – whether the clinic or the hospital – give their patients discharge instructions the day before they are discharged, it can reduce the admission rate going forward. Facilities that ensure that they add medication dispensation to their discharge protocols are going to have patients who understand their discharge instructions in greater detail. Patients can often hear the instructions left to them by a pharmacy assistant, but that doesn’t mean that they know what the medicine is for, or how to take it effectively. By adjusting protocols on discharge, a healthcare facility can improve the compliance of the patient as they take their medications. 

Discharge Programs

When patients go home after hospital healthcare, they are expected to follow what the doctor has said so that they can recover independently. The problem is that a lot of patients cannot manage the discharge process alone at home. Vulnerable and high-risk patients need further care much of the time, encouraging hospitals to provide “halfway care” for their patients. These are programs that help patients to manage the discharge process in their own home, but with support over 30 days from their healthcare provider. Not only does this prevent readmission to hospital, it ensures that patients are given more concentrated care.

Discharge Instructions for Patients

Discharge instructions are quite possibly the most critical part of care for discharged patients. They provide security to both the patient and the care provider, they educate the patients on what comes next, and they encourage patients to feel empowered by their own medical care. Engagement with patients is a vital part of the process, and healthcare providers would be better off involving patients in their own care to keep them happy and secure in their health. With the introduction of AC Health, healthcare providers can improve discharge instructions for patients and make the process post-discharge much smoother.

Discharge instructions for patients can be improved with the use of technology. Without it, healthcare would not continue to advance. Healthcare facilities must utilize technology in order to improve efficiency and outcomes. If you’re looking to improve the way patients are discharged, take advantage of the AC Health app — an invaluable discharge instructions app.