Efforts to cut hospital readmission rates ongoing in Michigan, Pennsylvania

Michigan and Pennsylvania are both beginning multi-organization efforts to cut unplanned readmissions to hospitals. The larger program, in Michigan, is being managed by Michigan Blue Cross Blue Shield and the University of Michigan. Called BOOST, it involves 29 organizations around the state that will work in conjunction with the Society of Hospital Medicine. The 15 physician organizations and 14 hospitals will collaborate to improve transitions of care to ensure fewer returns to either the emergency room or admissions to the hospital.

The new program will use mentoring, training, and joint trials of programs to try to improve transitions from hospital and home. Physicians that participate by transferring patients to a medical home model may also qualify for additional financial reimbursement.

Not to be left out, hospitals in Southeastern Pennsylvania are launching a similar program today called the Preventing Avoidable Episodes Project. With a goal of reducing readmissions by at least 10 percent over 18 months, the program is being funded by Independence Blue Cross and the Delaware Valley Health Care Council will collect and report data.

According to a 2009 study in the New England Journal of Medicine, about one-fifth of Medicare patients studied had unplanned hospital readmissions, costing more than $17 billion per year nationally. Reducing readmissions is something of a holy grail for hospitals and is the subject of dozens of studies every year. Most recently, a report in the May 5 issue of Journal of the American Medical Association looked at heart failure patients and the ability of follow-up programs to reduce readmission rates.

To learn more:
- check out this University of Michigan press release
- read this Philadelphia Business Journal article