According to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, hospital readmissions can be reduced by 25 percent when informal caregivers are integrated into the discharge planning process informal  for elderly patients,

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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Improving care coordination leads to better patient outcomes, overall satisfaction and reduces avoidable hospital admissions. Great Plains QIN is partnering with communities throughout the region to unite stakeholders, consumers and healthcare providers to improve communication and care coordination – resulting in reduced hospital admissions, readmissions and medication harm. Visit our Web site to learn more and get involved through our Learning and Action Network.