Heart Failure Programs–Stunning Success » Nursing Jobs Blog – Nurses Insights at Nursing Jobs.org

Heart Failure Programs–Stunning Success

September 6th, 2011  |  The Blog

Anything that reduces readmissions to hospital by 30 percent deserves recognition. New heart failure programs are being administered by nurses and they’re making a huge difference. What’s really stunning is the basis of the new programs–providing more information to patients. There’s quite a history to this saga, and it makes the point that quality care is always going to make a big difference.

The New York Times explains how the University of California San Francisco manages its heart failure program:

  • For at least one hour, a nurse known as a heart failure program coordinator explains the patient’s condition to the patient and his or her family. He or she prepares the patient and his or her family on how to manage the condition outside the hospital setting.
  • Nurses really get to know the patient prior to treating him or her. According to Eileen Brinker, one of the two program coordinators, doing so can make a big difference.
  • Heart failure patients typically need to reduce the amount of salt in their diets. To help them do so, nurses ask a lot of questions, including: What are your favorite foods? Who cooks for you? What foods are in your pantry?
  • To ensure that the patients and their family members understand what they need to do, nurses ask them to repeat the key concepts in their own words.

Anyone who’s every worked with the public will recognize this approach for what it is–fundamental information with a Q&A component to ensure the information makes sense to the recipients. The fact is, as I discovered for myself during a couple of decades working for government agencies in various roles, that lack of information is usually the cause of most problems in the hospital setting.

People can’t be expected to manage situations where they lack, have misinterpreted or been provided with wrong basic information. Giving quality information and making sure it’s understood in heart failure programs has clearly been providing major benefits.

The heart failure program includes:

  • Monitoring and managing medication
  • Home visits
  • Email
  • Phone calls

This is a lot more communication than the previous revolving door approach and it’s paying dividends for hospitals as well. This very fundamental level of contact has managed to get the “readmission cycle” under control. Fewer resources are being diverted to managing preventable problems. With any kind of major surgery, there’s a percentile chance of readmission, but the drastic drop of 30 percent makes a big point in favor of the heart failure programs.

I think all nurses can appreciate in more ways than one the value of any program where telling the patient what’s happening is so effective. Who knows, maybe being in the loop will become best practice for medical workers, too.

Paul Wallis
About Paul Wallis

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