South Carolina initiative cuts readmissions through cooperation, education

South Carolina healthcare providers significantly reduced readmissions and improved care transition quality through a statewide initiative, according to a study published in the journal Population Health Management.

Researchers, led by R. Neal Axon, M.D., of the Medical University of South Carolina, analyzed data from the Palmetto State acute care hospitals that participated in the Preventing Avoidable Readmissions Together (PART) initiative. Under PART, leadership teams drawn from member organizations and hospitals designed programs divided into five parts over two years. The initiative, which about 90 percent of acute care hospitals in the state participated in, opened with a statewide learning session, followed by three months for planning, forming multidisciplinary teams, discharge strategies and root cause analysis.

After the planning period, participants began a six-month action period dedicated to implementing transitional records and educating patients, followed by a second implementation phase centered on providing timely, high-quality discharge summaries and a third centered on improving the follow-up and post-discharge process.

Program content for each period addressed conditions that carry a high risk of readmission, including pneumonia, congestive heart failure (CHF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and myocardial infarction (AMI).

During the intervention period, the rate of 30-day readmissions improved significantly for participants between 2011, the last full year before PART implementation, and 2013, the first full year after, according to Axon and his team. They found a similar trend for COPD, AMI and CHF, but no significant decrease for pneumonia rates.

"Organizations face an increasing array of choices for quality improvement programs, and it may be desirable to coordinate these programs in order to accelerated learning and foster peer engagement through a collaborative, rather than competitive, model," the authors wrote. "The South Carolina PART learning collaborative has successfully engaged key partners in care transitions efforts on a statewide level while garnering high participation rates from different healthcare organizations."

Despite these gains, as well as similar progress nationwide on readmission reduction, recent research indicates hospitals that improve their readmission rates may still face penalties, FierceHealthFinance previously reported.

To learn more:
- read the study

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