Heart Failure and CHF Readmission Rates

Having heart failure means that for some reason your heart is not pumping blood around the body as well as it used to. The most common reason is that your heart muscle has been damaged, for example after a heart attack. It can be very frightening to hear that you or a person close to you has heart failure. For some reason Chronic heart failure CHF Readmission Rates are quite high and are one of the most important causes of high hospital readmission rates. Healthcare analytics can be used to reduce heart failure readmission rates. Below are 4 Ways to Leverage Healthcare Analytics to Reduce Heart Failure Readmission Rates

Understand your current readmission rates for your heart patients. Why? Because you can’t improve what you don’t measure. It is important to establish readmission baselines, track performance metrics, and distribute information to everyone who is trying to reduce readmissions. This is the first step towards quality improvement. Health systems operating at level 5 or above on the Healthcare Analytics Adoption Model will be able to achieve this goal.

Establish 30- and 90-day readmission baseline measures for heart failure patients. Realize, however, that if you’re looking old data, it’s difficult to engage clinicians in clinical improvement initiatives. Adopting an enterprise data warehouse (EDW) as described below could help ensure the data is current.

Be aware of balance measures (changes designed to improve one part of the system without causing new problems in another part of the system). For heart patient readmissions, there are three types of balance measures: patient satisfaction rates, emergency department (ED) visits, and observation stays. It is important to hold the gains with these measures while also improving readmission rates.

Use an enterprise healthcare data warehouse (EDW) to integrate clinical, financial, and patient satisfaction data. An enterprise healthcare data warehouse identifies all patients with a primary diagnosis of heart failure and then stratifies the populations as either high- or low-risk for readmission. Using this data, multi-disciplinary teams examine the root cause of readmissions to implement evidence-based, best-practice intervention plans for HF patients. The teams implement these interventions and track their impact on readmission rates and the balance measures. The goal of these efforts is to provide HF patients with the care and services they need to optimize and maintain their health and prevent readmission. In addition to data integration, the EDW offers real-time data about readmissions rates. Without an EDW, the numbers for overall readmissions rates could lag by as many as 180 days.

To achieve the goals set forth in its AIM statement, the multidisciplinary team worked together to define the patient cohort and to define four evidence-based, HF-specific best practice interventions, which were rolled out over a few months:

Medication reconciliation – Physicians review a list of the patient’s medications with explicit instructions on how to properly take them.

Post-discharge appointments – Before being discharged, patients are scheduled for follow-up care. When possible, patients at high risk for readmission are scheduled to be seen within seven days of discharge; others are scheduled to be seen within 14 days.

Post-discharge phone calls – Within a specified time frame following discharge (again based on the patient’s level of risk for readmission), a member from the coordinated care team calls patients to assess their condition and see if they have any questions or are having any problems with their medications.

Teach-back interventions – Patients are asked to explain the information that is presented to them to confirm the patient comprehends the information.

Some symptoms of heart failure

The main symptoms are:

shortness of breath – when you are being active or at rest

swelling – of your feet, ankles, stomach and lower back areas

fatigue – feeling unusually tired or weak

Symptoms occur because the heart does not have enough strength to pump blood all the way round the body efficiently. This can cause fluid to pool in the feet and legs.  If this fluid is left unmanaged, it can build and spread to your stomach area and sit beneath your lungs. This reduces their ability to expand and makes you short of breath.
Medication and making changes to the way you live can make a real difference to these symptoms. People with heart failure experience different symptoms and everyone copes in different ways, so speak to your GP and your heart failure nurse about what is best for you.

Posted in CHF