September 20, 2012 FireceHealthcare | By Karen Cheung-Larivee

In an effort to curb readmissions, hospitals should invest in health technology, including medical records, information sharing and telemonitoring, Jonathan H. Burroughs, president and CEO of The Burroughs Healthcare Consulting Network, wrote in Hospital ImpactOf the 5 million hospital readmissions in the United States, more than two-thirds are preventable, amounting to an annual cost of $25 billion, Burroughs wrote last week. He suggested hospitals and other providers horizontally integrate electronic health records with patient personal healthcare records. “Healthcare is the last industry to digitalize.” Nevertheless, immediate access to shared clinical information between inpatient and ambulatory settings will help combat the fragmented communication.

Burroughs also noted that nurse navigators can influence unnecessary readmissions through centralized patient registers. Once patients leave the hospital, remote monitoring also can detect clinically significant changes in vital signs, blood sugar and other health screens. “The best thing your organization can do is to invest in those initiatives that provide a good return on investment by reducing cost and improving outcomes/service, particularly in light of the reimbursement changes yet to come.”