Fisher: Readmission Problem Needs a Teaching Hospital Solution
What patients want is that their care is coordinated. So if there needs to be information provided, you give it back to the other hospital and providers to help keep that patient out of the hospital."
Conroy says that the AAMC has gone so far as to purchase a large dataset from Medicare to see in detail which hospitals are readmitting patients discharged from academic medical centers, readmissions that raise the teaching hospital's readmission rate, not the readmitting hospital's.
"We are taking this very seriously," she says. "But first we are getting the data."
It's true that prior to 2009, academic hospitals were expanding or grappling with the cost cutting necessitated by the economy. "But in 2009, we started saying, this is an issue we have to address."
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"Best Practices for Better Care," is an example of one campaign that focuses on three initiatives: surgical checklists, central line infections, and readmissions, she says. Creative patient management after discharge is starting to emerge.
For example, in Georgia, congestive heart failure patients waiting for heart transplants were found not have air conditioners, which could exacerbate their co-morbidities. So now they receive $200 window units while they wait for a match.
In other parts of the country, to improve communication between community practitioners and patients who have no land lines, university hospitals are purchasing cell phones.
"These are things that a university center and an endowment have funds for," she says.
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