Important clinical procedures, such as patient adherence to a medication regime, "gets a lot easier to accomplish when a person who is ill sees us as the team helps them accomplish what they want to in their lives," Stuart says. "It shifts away from 'here's what the doc wants you to do,' to 'here's what we can do together what you want in your life."
To develop its Advanced Illness Management Program, Sutter received $13 million from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under a three-year grant for palliative care and advanced care planning for patients with late stage chronic illness. The money came after Sutter's Sacramento region showed positive outcomes from its AIM program, such as reduced hospitalizations and improved care transitions.
From 2009 to 2011, Sutter reports show a 54% reduction in readmissions, an 80% reduction in ICU (intensive care unit) days, and a 26% reduction in hospital length of stays. In addition, there were reduced visits to physician offices, and home health care, Stuart adds. He cites cost savings of more than $500,000.
Sutter has been demonstrating success in its palliative care program for years. Seven years ago, in an extensive study, the Sutter Health Institute for Research and Education, part of Sutter Health in San Francisco, found that palliative care programs at 798-bed California Pacific Medical Center in that city resulted in an estimated annual savings of $2.2 million, with daily costs for palliative care patients estimated at 14.5% lower compared to usual care patients.