Get out and stay out: Fairview works to lower the rate of preventable readmissions

March 6, 2014
Patients hope for a one-way ticket home when they leave the hospital. It doesn’t always turn out that way. Fairview Health Services is working to find the reasons behind hospital readmissions—and to prevent those we can.

As part of our 2014 strategic plan, Fairview is focusing on reducing preventable readmissions among patients who are at high risk for a return trip. They include heart attack, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and heart failure patients.

Reducing the likelihood of being readmitted
“These patients can significantly reduce their likelihood of being readmitted to the hospital with the right support from their health care provider and with personal engagement in areas such as diet, exercise and medication management,” says Angela Booher, Fairview director of care transitions.

“Ultimately, our goal is to reduce preventable readmissions by putting systems and processes in place that improve the quality of care, improve the patient and family experience and reduce the cost of care,” says Booher.

Nationally, readmissions take a toll, both on patients and on the health care system as a whole:
  • One in five Medicare patients discharged from the hospital is readmitted within 30 days.
  • Among the 7 million 30-day hospital readmissions that occur each year in the United States, an estimated 836,000 could be prevented.
  • The estimated annual cost of preventable readmissions to the U.S. health system is $25 billion.

Campaign to reduce avoidable readmissions
In Minnesota, the Reducing Avoidable Readmissions Effectively (RARE) Campaign estimates that among its 82 participating hospitals and 100 community partners, it has prevented more than 6,000 avoidable hospital readmissions and has reduced inpatient costs by an estimated $55 million.

Fairview hospitals hover around the state median for actual-to-expected readmissions based on RARE data. Some are below the median, others are above.

Fairview is working hard to improve at all our hospitals. Many parts of our system need to work together even better—and our communication with external service providers is part of the solution, too. Some efforts under way include comprehensive discharge planning, medication management, patient and family engagement and transition support.

“Reducing preventable readmissions is the right thing to do for our patients, our payers and the health care system as a whole,” says Beverly Christie, Fairview senior director for integrated quality and safety.

“There is a great deal of effort under way to improve our results,” she adds. “We are measuring our results to determine if our strategies are making a difference. With sustained focus over time, we are confident that we will make a difference in this challenging area.”

In other words, we want our patients to get better—and stay better.
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