Hospital Readmissions: Processes, Outcomes and Buy-in

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What do weight-loss plans and process-improvement programs such as Six Sigma and “lean manufacturing” have in common? They typically start off well, generating excitement and great progress, but all too often fail to have a lasting impact as participants gradually lose motivation and fall back into old habits.[1]

Whether your facility is implementing Six Sigma to improve a patient service process or you are trying to reduce unplanned readmissions,  the common theme is human behavior?  Understanding the science behind why people do the things they do isn’t necessary, unless you want to make some lasting changes in their behavior.   Based on the sheer numbers of readmissions due to non-adherence, lasting change is not a bad idea.


Behavior is the process of outcomes.

Outcomes are, “the way things turn out.”  There is always a consequence when a behavior occurs.  For most of our patients, the outcomes are out of sight and thus out of mind until the patient comes in for his or her annual or quarterly check up.  How much of an impact can you make on a person when you see them once or twice a year?  Perhaps, if they have a monthly visit, you may have a greater impact simply because you can reinforce your message more frequently. 

Outcomes are always based on the behavior of people.  As much as we might hope that we can “fix and forget” the patients we serve, the reality is people are created in a complex array of conditions.  So, vast amounts of resources and time have been spent looking at all of the complex factors that effect patient outcomes.

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