Original Article

CME Article: Retrospective Analysis of the Effect of Postdischarge Telephone Calls by Hospitalists on Improvement of Patient Satisfaction and Readmission Rates

Authors: Mengli Xiao, MS, Catherine A. St. Hill, DVM, PhD, Marc Vacquier, MS, Love Patel, MD, Pamela Mink, PhD, Karl Fernstrom, MPH, Justin Kirven, MD, Jessica Jeruzal, BA, David Beddow, MD


Objectives: The influence of postdischarge telephone call interventions preventing hospital readmissions is unclear. A novel approach of the discharging hospitalist providing this intervention may improve overall patient satisfaction. Our objective was to assess the impact of postdischarge telephone calls from discharging hospitalists on readmissions and patients’ ratings of hospital care and hospitalist communication.

Methods: Data were retrospectively collected from patients’ electronic health records at a 167-bed hospital in Fridley, Minnesota and the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey. Patients were 18 years old or older and diagnosed as having nonpsychiatric conditions. Telephone calls were made by the discharging hospitalist to adult patients discharged to home with or without home care services between February 28, 2015 and February 29, 2016. Multivariate logistic regression models were used to evaluate associations of postdischarge telephone calls with global hospital care rating and hospitalist communication from HCAHPS, and 30-day readmission rates from electronic health records.

Results: Of 4490 eligible patients, 1067 had completed telephone calls (23.8%). The intervention was associated with a statistically significant improvement in the responses to HCAHPS overall hospital rating and HCAHPS doctor communication questions (adjusted odds ratio 1.52, P = 0.04 and adjusted odds ratio 1.56, P = 0.021) that varied by patient age at first admission (P = 0.001 and P = 0.101). With longer inpatient lengths of stay, 30-day readmission rates improved after patients received a postdischarge telephone call, but this outcome was not statistically significant.

Conclusions: This study revealed that postdischarge telephone calls from discharging hospitalists increased patient satisfaction. Further research is needed to understand the causal relationships among the intervention, 30-day hospital readmission rates, and inpatient length of stay.

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