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Patient. 2012;5(1):27-32. doi: 10.2165/11594290-000000000-00000.

Re-engineering the post-discharge appointment process for general medicine patients.

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Department of Internal Medicine, The University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.



Patients are vulnerable to issues that emerge after discharge from the hospital, and this susceptibility is compounded as patients attempt to navigate complex healthcare organizations. Post-discharge clinic appointments may provide the opportunity to mitigate risks posed to patients during this vulnerable time.


Our aim was to determine whether actively engaging patients in scheduling post-discharge appointments before leaving the hospital affects the rate of patients seeing an ambulatory care physician.


This was a prospective cohort pilot study from May to July 2007 with a historical convenience control from 2003. The setting was an inpatient academic tertiary care referral center in the US. Study participants had been discharged from a general medicine hospitalist service during the study time period. Patients, or their designated caregivers, were contacted in hospital rooms to schedule a post-discharge appointment before discharge. The primary outcome was rate of attendance at post-discharge appointments, determined a priori.


Eighty-three patients with 115 scheduled appointments in the intervention group were compared with 306 patients with 398 appointments in the historical control group. The attendance rate was 59.5% in the control group versus 78.3% in the study group (pā€‰<ā€‰0.0001). Patients received 1.3 discharge appointments per discharge in both the historical and study group. In a limited evaluation, the study group had a trend towards a lower return rate to the emergency department within 3 days of discharge (1.2% vs 3.8%, nonsignificant), and a lower readmission rate within 14 days of discharge (10.8% vs 11.8%, nonsignificant).


Our patient-centered process for helping patients arrange their post-discharge appointments before discharge improved the attendance rate at those appointments.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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