Taking on Readmissions

John Commins, January 23, 2015

In our July Intelligence Report, healthcare leaders identified "all-cause hospitalwide readmissions" as the outcome-of-care measure that presents the biggest challenge. HealthLeaders Media Council members discuss how they are addressing this critical metric.

This article first appeared in the January/February 2015 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

Michael Murphy, MD
Chief Medical Officer
Sharp Grossmont Hospital
La Mesa, California

Michael Murphy, MD
Michael Murphy, MD

We concentrate on congestive heart failure, heart attacks, and strokes, and what we have found and what the literature supports is that among the biggest issues are medication management and knowledge of medications. We have dedicated nurses who contact the patients and go to their homes and make sure their medications are correct, that they're taking them and they understand what they're doing.

We also deal with a lot of social factors. One is a lack of food. We connect with the food bank and social support systems.

The skilled nursing facility project is kind of the same thing. If we can go out to these SNFs and teach them when it's appropriate to have heart failure patients return to the hospital, then we can improve the care and decrease the costs for the whole system. Because when we teach them with our patients, it is going to work for other patients, too.

Our readmissions have been decreasing over three or four years, and we see a bit of a percentage decrease each year. We are putting more resources into this effort than we lose from the readmission from Medicare reductions. For readmissions, we lose $150,000, but we are putting far more dollars into it to save $150,000. If you talk to our CFO, there is no ROI and it is the right thing to do.

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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