Take community approach to reduce readmissions

Quality improvement activities that engage whole communities lead to a drop in hospitalizations and rehospitalizations among Medicare patients, according to a study published yesterday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

With community-wide interventions, coordinated by Quality Improvement Organizations (QIOs), readmissions fell 5.7 percent over two years across a group of 14 economically and demographically diverse communities. They also saw a 5.74 percent reduction in hospitalizations over that same period, according to the American Health Quality Association, which represents QIOs.

With transitional care playing a major role in curbing readmissions, the findings promote a community-based approach over hospital-based methods.

"Hospital readmissions are not just a hospital problem or a patient problem. They are a community problem, and ensuring that all sectors of a community work together to make care transitions effective is vitally important," AHQA President Mary Ellen Dalton said yesterday in a statement.

In a community-based approach, interventions to improve care transitions focus on the specific needs of each community. To help facilitate those interventions, QIOs provide community organizing, technical assistance, and monitoring of participation, implementation and effectiveness, according to the JAMA announcement.

For example, the QIO in the community in suburban Atlanta arranged meetings among representatives from four hospitals, 12 nursing homes, five home health agencies, physicians, hospice organizations and senior centers, Georgia Health News reported.

At those meetings, health stakeholders discussed what factors caused readmissions and how to implement best practices to keep patients from returning to the hospital.

To to achieve real results, hospitals should talk with local QIOs and area agencies on aging, Eric Coleman, professor of medicine and head of the healthcare policy and research division at the University of Colorado, previously told FierceHealthcare.

For more
- here's the JAMA abstract and announcement
- here's AHQA announcement
- check out the Georgia Health News article