Agencies should consider scheduling visits earlier in the day for patients at higher risk for rehospitalization, a new study recommends.
This is because visits that are longer than usual by just one minute reduce the risk of hospital readmission by 8%, and the duration of home health visits tends to be impacted by order, the study from the National Bureau of Economic Research shows.
The study involved data collected between January 2012 and August 2015 from a for-profit home health agency with 96 offices in 16 states. In the sample, the average home health visit lasted 47 minutes and the average episode was 14 visits.
The study notes that the data does not include details about what exactly clinicians did or didn’t do during the visits.
“As a result, we have limited insight into how or why a shorter visit may lead to an increased risk of hospital readmission,” the study states.
With this in mind, simply conducting longer visits may not be solution and “careful time management and allocation by home health providers is essential to improving the quality of care,” the study states.
The study goes on to recommend several additional strategies to consider in light of these findings.
- Assigning patients based on severity or risk of deterioration as opposed to geographic location.
- Allowing some clinicians to specialize in seeing patients with more complex conditions or severe conditions. This would include fewer visits in a day to allow those clinicians to spend more time with each patient.
- Allowing some clinicians to only focus on patients with lower risk of hospitalization. This would include more visits “where each visit could be relatively shorter without compromising on quality.”