Have you ever seen an episode of Grey’s Anatomy or House where the same patient keeps coming back for one reason or another, each time with another problem or complication? It may seem like an unrealistic TV plot line, but in fact it happens more than you might think.

The number of hospital patient readmissions is growing by the year – and Medicare is footing the bill to the tune of $26 billion. What’s causing this problem?   According to a study by the Dartmouth Atlas Project, frequent Medicare patient readmissions tend to happen because of widespread and systematic failures in post-hospital care. Usually, the root cause is miscommunication between doctor and patient, resulting in misunderstandings about the patient’s true level of well-being and needed treatments.  

If readmission occurs within 30 days, Medicare covers the cost. That’s how Medicare ends up spending $26 billion dollars per year on hospital readmissions, and also why the Affordable Care Act penalizes hospitals with a readmission rate above certain standards by reducing hospital Medicare reimbursements by up to 3 percent.   Although that percentage might seem small, for the average hospital this means a loss of millions of dollars. Out of 3,400 hospitals in the US, a record 76 percent were penalized for hospital readmissions in 2015.  

So what can hospitals do to communicate with and care for patients more effectively, reduce readmissions, and stop bleeding money?

One solution is to adopt new organizational tools that enable better communication between caregivers and patients. According to a study by the Harvard Business Review, improving communication between caregivers and patients is the most effective method of addressing the readmission problem, and would reduce average readmission rates by 5 percent.

Want to discover how exactly new technology solutions can help close the door on hospital admissions? Check out our infographic to learn more about intelligent care collaboration tools and the problems they can solve.