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How Hospitals and Health Systems Can Leverage Ecommerce to Reduce Hospital Readmissions

A big challenge that hospitals and health systems face revolves around patients being discharged, then re-admitted in short order after they arrive home. This is problematic for a few reasons. Most obviously, patient health and wellness are always a top priority for hospitals and health systems, so when a patient is discharged and they have a fall or a setback that causes them to return to the hospital (typically within 30 days of a discharge), it negatively affects their health and convenience.

This also negatively affects the hospital or health system where this patient was treated. Medicare will typically fine the hospital where the patient was treated and released if that patient is re-admitted back to another hospital within this grace period. In addition to the fine, hospitals also put their quality of care rankings in jeopardy, which is used to validate how well a hospital takes care of patients in various categories.

There are many reasons why a patient could be re-admitted to a hospital. Everything from experiencing complications after their original visit and/or procedure, or they’re trying to do too much too fast without giving themselves proper time to recover. However, one of the largest factors that contribute to falls of those aged 65+  is the risk of falling once at home. A University of Michigan study found that falls are the third leading diagnosis for readmission for seniors aged 65+.

So, how can hospitals and health systems reduce the number of readmissions, specifically within the 65+ age demographic? Well, there are many ways this can be achieved, but the specific way I’m talking about is through an ecommerce platform (wait, what?!).

Allow Me to Explain

Yes, ecommerce. In theory – when patients are discharged, they often receive material and content that helps them, their family, or caregivers to ensure their recovery is effective. In addition to this content, I’m suggesting health systems offer patients more home health products to reduce the risk of hospital readmission.

Let’s say a patient needs to have hip surgery. Upon completion of the surgery, they’ll be discharged and likely will be recovering in a home setting. Because of this procedure, their increase for fall increases. However, there are many home health products and daily living aids that would help this patient reduce their risk. Everything from a reacher/grabber tool to a shower bench and bathtub grab bar. Many families and patients don’t realize these products exist, so having their hospital/health system suggest these upon discharge and more so, providing an ordering portal to purchase the doctor-recommended products, will establish the health system as a trusted source for care.

This type of ecommerce platform could also take form within the patient portal for health systems. Giving Clinical Care professionals the ability to recommend home healthcare products directly through an ecommerce portal that is branded by the hospital or healthcare system providing it could drastically reduce the number of readmissions by a longshot.

By leveraging this opportunity, hospitals and health systems will be able to:

  • Reduce the risk of readmission – By providing a catalog of health and wellness products, and correlating procedure and discharge timing with these suggested or recommended products, health systems and hospitals will reduce the risk of readmissions across various conditions.
  • Increase revenue – Supplemental revenue for hospitals and health systems is never a bad thing. By offering a “pay with cash” ecommerce portal for patients to spend out-of-pocket dollars will provide additional revenue streams.
  • Increase hospital ranking and perception – If your doctor tells you to do something, you do it. By leveraging doctors as part of this ecommerce ordering portal, patients will receive the authoritative push they need to purchase products that will ease their recovery and decrease the risk of hospital readmission.
  • Improve outcomes and quality of care – Last but certainly not least is improving the outcomes and quality of care – not only for patients but also for their family members. Catalogs of health and wellness products that are suggested for patients will decrease the risk of readmission as the items offered through this ecommerce portal will be curated based upon the specific condition of a patient (with the help from their attending physician).

Ecommerce for Healthcare – An Easy Solution

The bottom line here is simple. Hospitals and health systems need to provide methods for patients to be safe upon discharge. This ecommerce idea is the road to the success of patient outcomes, giving patients and loved ones the ability to find additional health and wellness products that will help them recover, safely. For more information regarding how you can best help your patients with the help of a commerce platform, contact our experts today.




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Justin Racine

Justin Racine is a Director and Lead Strategist with Perficient, and he works with clients to build and achieve their business goals through commerce-enabled technologies. Justin has over 12 years of experience within the ecommerce space, working with companies such as Cardinal Health, Johnson & Johnson, and Olam International, and has spoken at over 20 global conferences on ecommerce and branding strategy. Additionally, Justin has been published twice for his thought leadership on branding and marketing in the Henry Stewart Journal of Brand Strategy, is a contributing writer for, and a frequent contributor for many leading industry publications.

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