When it comes to discharge phone calls, we often encounter the “my patient didn’t answer” obstacle. Such a vital piece of the care puzzle should get bypassed because our team was sent to voicemail. This article outlines a few ways to increase the chances of patients answering this important phone call.

Tactics to Increase Answering of Discharge Phone Call

1) Tell the patient in advance that you will call and share the purpose of the call or details you might discuss
2) Schedule a convenient time for the call
2) Ask if a significant family member or caregiver can be present and make sure the scheduled call works for them
3) Create reminder magnets with the date and phone number you’ll be calling from
4) Put a post it note with the date and phone number on the top of the discharge papers

Bonus: Telling the patient and/or caregiver the phone number you’ll be calling from ensures they have a callback number in case they miss your call or they need help prior to the follow up

Example: What can I do to Improve Care Transitions in 1 Week?

Let’s walk through an example involving explaining the discharge phone call, scheduling a day and time for the call, and what number they will receive the call from.

Monday: Review the QI Project Planning Worksheet that will guide you through the steps of planning for a Small Test Of Change (STOC).

Tuesday: Huddle with your hospital team that will be involved in testing something new and explain the expectations.

Wednesday: Test one change idea with one or several discharges that day. Huddle with your team after. How did it go? What would make it easier? What challenges did you encounter? What will you do differently with the next patient, tomorrow?

Thursday: Try the test again with modifications based upon Wednesday’s experience.

Friday: Call the patient or family caregiver that you tested advance notification intervention with. Did they pick up the call?  If yes, what made them answer?  If no, reflect on your STOC conducted on Wednesday. Will you adapt or abandon the change idea?  Will you try adding a post it note with the date, time and phone number you will be calling from?

All this to say, discharge phone calls may be low-hanging fruit to capitalize on that can do a great deal to help decrease your readmissions and continually better serve your patient population. If you’re looking for more ways to improve your Care Transitions, reach out and we’d be happy to talk strategy with you.