A community hospital in Kentucky has found that employing lay outreach workers to assist patients recently discharged from the hospital can significantly reduce hospital readmissions.

In a research project, the hospital identified high-risk patients and, upon their discharge from the hospital, assigned lay outreach workers to help those patients with matters such as providing transportation, assisting during follow-up medical appointments, and navigating the health care system.  With this help, the hospital experienced a 48 percent reduction in 30-day readmissions.

While the hospital needed to spend money to employ the outreach workers, the effort reduced its likelihood of being assessed penalties for excessive readmissions under Medicare’s hospital readmissions reduction program.

Learn more about the project, its methodology, and its findings in the article “Reducing 30-day readmission rates in a high-risk population using a lay-health worker model in Appalachia Kentucky,” which can be found here in the journal Health Education Research.