Using Technology and Proactive Communication to Help Prevent Avoidable Readmissions

Posted by Wayne Sensor on 4/14/16 9:00 AM

How do we efficiently move patients and relevant clinical information through the care continuum and ultimately reduce unnecessary readmissions?

Multiple workflows, a lack of transparency, and poor patient engagement combined with limited EMRs in post-acute facilities all contribute to the problem. Today, our hospitals are being forced to move from a fee-for-service to a value-based system, and until we find the right solution to these challenges, patients lose.

The financial viability of our health-care institutions depends on us figuring out a solution that will result in better care and a better patient experience. Readmission penalties add up fast. In 2015, 2,592 hospitals were penalized a total of $420 million. I believe care planning and communication are at the heart of a multi-layered solution that facilitates smooth care transitions for patients and their families.  

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Topics: Care Transitions, Healthcare Technology Solutions, Reducing Readmissions

Key Readmission Reduction Strategies

Posted by Wayne Sensor on 4/12/16 2:53 PM

Currently, hospitals are engaging in several initiatives to limit readmissions.

For instance, some organizations are pursuing mergers and acquisitions with the goal of keeping care under one umbrella throughout the continuum. The thought is that by strategically acquiring post-acute providers, hospitals can keep patients “in sight” during post-acute care. Unfortunately, this approach is costly and does not directly mitigate the drivers of readmissions.

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Topics: Care Coordination, Care Transitions, Reducing Readmissions

Using Technology to Meet CMS Discharge Planning Requirements

Posted by Wayne Sensor on 4/12/16 12:26 PM

On October 29, 2015, CMS proposed a new set of discharge planning requirements that HealthLeadersMedia_article.jpghospitals and other care providers must meet to receive Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement. According to CMS, the proposed rules are meant to modernize the discharge function and help organizations improve care quality and avoid adverse events, such as unnecessary complications or hospital readmissions. The comment period for these proposed standards ended in January, and organizations await the final rules. Although no one knows exactly when the rules will release or what form they will take, there is consensus that the final regulations will be similar to those proposed, and organizations will be required to comply with them sooner rather than later.

Overall, the new CMS regulations strongly emphasize the importance of taking the patient’s clinical needs, care goals, and psychosocial preferences into account when planning for discharge. The main idea is that if organizations place the patient at the center of the planning process, they will improve patient health outcomes, enhance satisfaction, reduce care costs, and limit the likelihood of medical errors.

Read my full article published by Health IT Outcomes to learn how technology can help providers meet the new CMS standards.

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Topics: Care Coordination, Care Transitions, Reducing Readmissions

Technology Solutions Enhance Common Readmission Strategies

Posted by Wayne Sensor on 7/23/15 9:39 AM

A recent article published by Becker’s Hospital Review named the six most and least common strategies used by hospitals across the country to reduce readmissions.

The most common readmission reduction strategies:

  1. Completing a medication reconciliation process
  2. Educating patients and caregivers before discharge
  3. Conducting phone calls or other communication post-discharge

The least common readmission reduction strategies:

  1. Conducting in-home visits post-discharge
  2. Using technology specifically designed to manage risk
  3. No formal strategy

As a former hospital and health system CEO, I have seen each of these strategies deployed with varying levels of success.  I have also come to realize that the time has come to capitalize on technology as a solution for reducing avoidable readmissions and mitigating the associated risk. Not only can technology bring new strategies into play, it also can work to make commonly-used strategies more successful.

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Topics: Healthcare Technology Solutions, Reducing Readmissions

Focus on Medication Management Translates to Real Dollars, and Real Sense

Posted by Wayne Sensor on 6/23/15 3:00 PM

Medication adherence is key to reducing 30-day readmissions and return ER visits

A recent article in H&HN Daily tells the story of Chicago-based Mercy Hospital & Medical Center and its quest to maintain better medical oversight of patients being discharged.

For organizations such as Mercy, who serve an estimated 300,000 at-risk, uninsured patients, the need to create innovative programs to help reduce readmissions is rooted in their very mission, but also in the practical realities of today’s health reform. Increasing penalties for avoidable readmissions is an outcropping of the Affordable Care Act and finding ways to reduce repeat emergency room visits that result in readmission translates into real dollars and cents.

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Topics: Healthcare Reform, Care Transitions, Patient Outcomes, Healthcare Technology Solutions, Reducing Readmissions

Data, Technology Offer Sustainable Solutions to Address Readmission Risks

Posted by Wayne Sensor on 2/18/15 10:31 AM

I’ve had the privilege of talking to hospital administrators across the United States about the creative BLOG_Emergency_Roomstrategies being implemented to address the triple aim of the Affordable Care Act. One major outcome of health-care reform that I hear discussed time and again pertains to the associated migration of risk from the payer community to the provider community.

The one thing nearly all find problematic is identifying solutions to mitigate the financial risk of avoidable readmissions. This is not an easy task and one that can prove quite costly for organizations from both a time and financial standpoint.

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Topics: Post-acute Care, Care Coordination, Healthcare Reform, Reducing Readmissions

Reducing All-Cause, Unplanned Readmissions with Improved Risk Stratification

Posted by Jill Reeves, MHA on 2/2/15 3:39 PM

Some readmissions are unavoidable and result from the inevitable progression of diseases or chronic conditions; however, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) has estimated that nearly 76 percent of readmissions are potentially preventable, and may result from poor quality of care or inadequate transitional care.

Risk stratification

One of the programs that works to reduce unnecessary readmissions to improve care quality and reduce per capita costs is the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Readmission Reduction Program, which penalizes hospitals who are incurring an excessive amount of 30-day readmissions. 

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Topics: Medicare Readmission Penalties, Risk Stratification, Reducing Readmissions

Reducing Readmissions: A Better Way

Posted by Kyle Salem, Ph.D. on 5/19/14 10:14 AM

Did you know that nearly 80 percent of serious medical errors involve miscommunication during patient transfers? Doesn’t that illustrate the need for accurate and timely information exchange in discharge planning?

There’s got to be a better way—one that benefits patients and providers.

Hospitals are employing nontraditional best practices to improve communication and avoid penalties. Consider the following strategies many facilities use to support robust patient care across the continuum.

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Topics: Post-acute Care, Care Coordination, Reducing Readmissions

Part I: Four Steps to Maintain Patient Engagement after Discharge

Posted by Mary Kay Thalken, RN, MBA on 4/28/14 11:24 AM

Editor’s Note: This is the first of a two-part blog series. Read the second blog here.

It's no secret that engaging patients in their care is essential to care quality, increasing patient satisfaction and, ultimately, achieving positive patient outcomes.

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Topics: Post-acute Care, Care Coordination, Care Transitions, Patient and Family Engagement, Reducing Readmissions

Post-Acute Partnerships Can Help Reduce Readmissions

Posted by Wayne Sensor on 3/17/14 1:36 PM

As reimbursement penalties increase hospitals' focus on reducing avoidable readmissions, many acute-care providers are looking to post-acute care providers to help.

I visit with hospitals and health systems across the country, and many have the same questions. I’ve compiled some of the questions and my responses below.

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Topics: Post-acute Care, Affordable Care Act, Reducing Readmissions