New study shows reduced hospital readmission rates a phone call away

Sydney, 10 April 2017 –  A new study, published today in the Australian Health Review, shows telephone support for patients recently discharged from hospital effectively reduced the incidence of readmission by almost a third (29%), which represents $700,000 in readmission costs avoided.

High readmission rates are a recognised problem in Australia and contribute to over 600,000 potentially preventable hospitalisations per year; a largely avoidable cost to the healthcare systemi.

The results of this study, the largest of its kind in Australia to focus on avoiding hospital preventable readmissions across a wide variety of conditions, emphasise the sizeable opportunity to deliver a hospital discharge telephonic service more broadly in Australia to avoid the burden and cost associated with preventable readmissions.

The study, Effect of post-hospital discharge telephonic intervention on hospital readmissions in a privately insured population in Australia, was conducted by Australia’s largest not-for-profit health fund, HCF, in partnership with global well-being improvement leader, Healthways.

Over 3,000 members of the chronic disease management program offered by HCF, My Health Guardian, were evaluated. A registered nurse calls the patient as soon as possible after hospital discharge, with the goal of providing support during the critical transition period where there is increased risk of avoidable readmission.

Cindy Shay, Chief Benefits Officer, says HCF is committed to identifying improved methods of reducing hospital admissions and chronic disease management in Australia which will achieve better outcomes for patients.

“Our goal has been to identify ways of reducing rates of potentially avoidable hospitalisations, which we know plays an essential role in improving patient outcomes, eases pressure on hospitals and increases the health delivery system’s quality and efficiency.

“The results of this study show that there is an incremental benefit of post-discharge intervention, through methods as simple as a telephone call, to be implemented more broadly in Australia which will help lessen the burden and cost associated with preventable readmissions.

“Our commitment to improved chronic disease management in Australia starts with continued investment in comprehensive analysis of ways to improve health service delivery, as well as introducing preventive health measures at a member level. Partnering with Healthways through our My Health Guardian program and research studies have been essential for driving solutions in this space,” Ms Shay said.

Gerrye Stegall, Healthways Australia Managing Director, says “Healthways’ offering of healthcare solutions, wellbeing programs and research aligns closely with HCF’s commitment to meeting the needs of chronic disease management and prevention in Australia. This study demonstrates the value of the partnership with HCF in identifying cost-effective and scalable health interventions in order to improve health delivery in Australia.”

HCF’s My Health Guardian chronic conditions program, through Healthways, is a free support service to help eligible members manage their chronic conditions with tailored assistance, which includes easy-to-follow health action plans, telephone support from registered nurses, access to health coaches and SMS or email reminders about screenings and GP appointments.



The study compared 28-day readmissions of patients with chronic disease between two groups: a treatment group consisting of MHG program members who participated in a hospital discharge call; and a comparison group of non-participating MHG members.

This evaluation is consistent with previous outcome studiesii,iii, conducted by HCF which determined the effectiveness of telephone support in reducing hospital admissions for patients with heart disease or diabetes.

Issued on behalf of HCF by WE Buchan. Media inquiries to:

About HCF

HCF, leading not-for-profit health fund protecting Australians since 1932, covers over 1.5 million members with health and life insurance, community care, travel and pet insurance. On average over the last five years, HCF has paid out more cents in every dollar in premiums to members as benefits than the industry average. With over 35,000 specialists participating in its Medical Gap Cover Scheme and approximately 10,000 providers participating in its 100% back More for You programs, HCF gives members access to quality health care with no gaps or minimal costs compared to non-participating providers. To empower members to put their health first, HCF also offers a range of health and lifestyle services including its My Health Guardian health management program, mobile Victor Chang Health Checks and My Global Specialist second opinion service. HCF’s national network of retail outlets and Australian-based call centres have earned multi-award winning status. HCF members also have access to low cost, high quality services at HCF Dental Centres and HCF Eyecare Centres. Having contributed $50 million to support the health services research funded by the HCF Research Foundation, HCF is devoted to investing in the future of Australia’s health. To learn more about HCF go to


iAustralian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). Admitted patient care 2013–2014: Australian hospital statistics. Health Services Series no. 60, Catalogue no. HSE 156. Canberra: AIHW; 2015.

iiHamar, G. B. et al, Long-term impact of a chronic disease management program on hospital utilisation and cost in an Australian population with heart disease or diabetes, BMC Health Services Research (2015) 15:174, DOI 10.1186/s12913-015-0834-z

iiiHamar, G.B. et al, Impact of a chronic disease management program on hospital admissions and readmission in an Australian population with heart disease or diabetes, Population Health Management, Volume 16, Number 2, 2013, DOI: 10.1089/pop.2012.0027