Can Hispanic Healthcare Marketing Save $4 Billion?By Beatriz Mallory
Hospitals seeking to reduce costs associated with 30-day readmissions can benefit from Hispanic marketing and communications strategy. Read on for recommendations on how to reduce Hispanic patient readmissions at every stage of their journey.
We now spend $2 trillion on healthcare each year, hospitalizations accounting for nearly one-third of that amount. In the majority of cases, hospitalization is necessary and appropriate. However, a substantial portion of all hospitalizations are patients returning to the hospital soon after their previous stay. These “revolving door” re-hospitalizations are costly, and often avoidable.
Why do readmissions need to be reduced?
- Cost. In the U.S., the cost of unplanned readmissions is $15 to $20 billion dollars annually. At 20% of all readmissions, Hispanic readmissions will cost as much as $4 billion in 2018.
- Penalties. Hospitals are penalized for not reducing 30-day readmissions by the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). Approximately $564 million in payments will be withheld in 2018.
- Hispanic-serving hospitals are disproportionately dinged. Even though minority-serving hospitals have some of the largest reductions in readmissions, 84.8% of them were penalized in 2013, vs. 68.8% of all other hospitals.
There are many reasons for readmissions of diverse patients (most of which marketers can’t change), such as poor social support, socioeconomic disadvantages, lack of regular care and poor health literacy. Despite these barriers, Hispanic healthcare marketing strategies have still proven effective. The key to a patient’s best outcome is their ability to manage their own care. Thus, culturally competent messaging relevant to Hispanic patients can help patients better manage their condition.
Below are some ways Hispanic healthcare marketing strategy can reduce readmissions:
Collecting Efficacious Data at Admitting
By using the data gathered when Hispanic patients are admitted to a hospital, hospitals can conduct predictive modeling for readmissions, in order to help preempt avoidable readmissions.
Language: Patients with limited-English proficiency are more likely to be readmitted, so hospitals should collect data on patients’ preferred spoken language, language for reading, and language for which translation took place during their stay. Understanding language preferences helps provide patients with better comprehension in-hospital care, discharge instructions, as well as post-discharge communications.
Race and Ethnicity: As research shows that Hispanic patients are more likely to be readmitted for chronic conditions than their white counterparts, standardized collection of race and ethnicity data at Admitting is critical.
Education: Since patients with low health literacy and numeracy are at risk for readmissions, hospitals should capture patients’ level of education at Admitting to help tailor communications to their level of understanding.
Social Determinants of Health: Social barriers, such as a patients’ direct caregiver/family, other sources of support, and access to a primary care doctor can greatly affect outcomes. Hispanic marketers should consider these barriers when tailoring messaging.
Targeting and Segmentation
Hispanic hospital patients do not benefit from the same type of communications. Patients may respond to or absorb messaging differently, depending on how the communications method was delivered, or the time or stage of their stay. Hospitals should perform analytics on the data captured at Admitting to be able to segment more effectively for messaging strategy.
During Hospital Stay
Deploying strategies to prevent readmissions at Discharge is too late. Deploying marketing strategies should be conducted in a thoughtful and intentional way, starting at Admitting, and continuing throughout hospitalization, until Discharge.
Successfully reducing readmission rates may depend on patients’ ability to understand three things: 1) their diagnosis, 2) the care they receive, and 3) their discharge instructions. For patients, knowing what they have, what the warning signs are, what to take, who to call, and when to go to the hospital are all critical for proper recovery.
In order to help increase a patient’s understanding of their condition during their stay, hospitals should communicate with family members, not just direct caregivers, while being mindful of regulatory bounds. Hospitals can also start utilizing the “teach back” technique, which involves asking patients to explain in their own words what they need to know or do.
Studies show that discharge is the point in the patient journey where efforts to curb readmissions are most critical. For issues such as medication reconciliation and discharge instructions, effective patient-provider communication is essential for successful transition to the next stage of the patient’s care.
To improve outcomes, hospitals should provide a translator at discharge, whether or not the patient has requested one. They should also create materials to support the Spanish language translator who is helping the discharge team to “teach back” with a Hispanic patient.
As Hispanic patient numbers continue to grow, so does the need to help them manage their condition post-discharge. Integrating Hispanic marketing strategies will help improve patient outcomes, and steer them clear of the revolving doors.