An emergency department (ED) early alert system has dramatically reduced readmission rates for heart failure patients at Indiana University Methodist Hospital. When patients are registered in the ED, their electronic medical record flags those patients admitted for heart failure, and activates an alert that is distributed via page, email and/or text message to an on-call heart failure team that includes four physicians, four nurse practitioners, the ED charge nurse and the heart failure team manager. The patient receives aggressive treatment starting in the ED that continues when the team arrives.
The new system has increased ED physicians comfort with aggressively treating heart failure patients and discharging them to observation at the appropriate time. It has reduced 3-day readmission rates to a mean of 18.4 percent at 12 months compared with 24.5 percent in the previous 12 months.
The study was presented at the Heart Failure Society of America annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.and reported in MedPageToday.com.