A coordinated approach to improving cost and quality of care

By Matt Kuhrt

With the shift toward value-based quality metrics by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), healthcare practices find themselves aligning their care practices to a new set of incentives, among them patient readmission benchmarks.

A new study demonstrated increased performance metrics and associated cost savings after the introduction of coordinated, customized medication education programs that target doctors and patients in their facilities. The research was carried out by Quality Independent Physicians, a multi-specialty accountable care organization with offices throughout Kentucky and southern Indiana, and the findings were published in Executive Insight.

The seven-month program focused on high-risk, high-cost disease states, and specifically on those that affected 30-day hospital readmission rates. The stated goal involved aligning medication management practices throughout the enterprise via patient and clinician education.

The education component comprised a partnership with a drug advisory service providing up-to-date information on drug therapy recommendations, drug comparison charts and online medication management recommendations.

To encourage clinician buy-in and ensure widespread adoption of any new prescribing guidelines, the program featured a staff coordination component. Clinical teams gathered each month to review the latest information and modify guidelines collectively. Care coordinators were then dispatched to meet with patients, pass along new information and follow-up, all of which supported increased patient compliance.

This coordinated approach generated a significant impact. The study reports a 26 percent decrease in patient hospitalization across all disease states and a 7 percent relative decrease in 30-day hospital readmissions. Given that the average readmission costs approximately $13,000, estimated savings for that element alone could be substantial over time. Combined with "significant cost-savings" seen for all other disease states examined, the study's authors see a potentially winning combination for patients, their practice and CMS.

To learn more:
- see the report in Executive Insight