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How Highmark BCBS Helps Reduce Hospital Readmissions

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, November 13, 2013

Babbitt says the hospitals have implemented several additional interventions that contribute to reduced readmissions, including:

Patient Education
Teach Back is an education intervention that has patients explain, in their own words, their care plans. "It's a way to find out if the patient really gets it," says Babbitt. She explains that when she speaks to a congestive heart failure patient, she talks about the importance of a low salt diet. Then she'll ask the patient to describe to her what they need to do, in their own words. "If they tell me that they're going to go home, stock their cupboards full of canned soup, and stick to their diet, well that's a learning opportunity. We course-correct them.

Health Team Huddle
This is a multidisciplinary team that includes case managers, social workers, nurses, and pharmacy staff who meet every day to discuss patient discharges. Babbitt says the conversation often includes identifying patients with a high probability for readmission. "They talk about steps to take to prevent the readmission, transportation issues that might affect the patient's ability to get to a doctor's office, [and] issues at home that could affect recovery."

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