Archive for the ‘Hospital Readmissions’ Category

Infographic: Focus on Care Transitions to Reduce Readmissions and Boost Your Bottom Line

May 30th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

Decreased hospital readmissions leads to improved patient outcomes, which improves brand reputation, ultimately leading to increased patient volume and market share. Reducing readmissions begins with creating a seamless care transition plan for what will happen within the hospital as well as after discharge, according to a new infographic by the Studer Group.

The infographic examines how reducing readmissions impacts a hospital’s bottom line and techniques to improve care transitions.

The Science of Successful Care Transition Management: Leveraging Home Visits to Improve Readmissions and ROI A care transitions management program operated by Sun Health since 2011 has significantly reduced hospital readmissions for nearly 12,000 Medicare patients, resulting in $14.8 million in savings to the Medicare program. Using home visits as a core strategy, the Sun Health Care Transitions program was a top performer in CMS’s recently concluded Community-Based Care Transitions (CBCT) demonstration project, which was launched in 2012 to explore new solutions for reducing hospital readmissions, improving quality and achieving measurable savings for Medicare.

The Science of Successful Care Transition Management: Leveraging Home Visits to Improve Readmissions and ROI explores the critical five pillars of the Arizona non-profit’s leading care transitions management initiative, adapted from the Coleman Care Transitions Intervention®.

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Essentia Health Virtual Telemedicine Services Support Rural Hospitals and Clinics

March 13th, 2018 by Patricia Donovan

Essentia Health conducts 5,000 virtual visits annually.

There may be some challenges associated with Essentia Health’s comprehensive telemedicine program, but provider engagement isn’t one of them.

“In the seven years I have been with Essentia Health, I have not gone to any provider to ask them to do telehealth,” notes Maureen Ideker, RN, BSN, MBA, the organization’s senior advisor for telehealth. Instead, physicians seek out Ms. Ideker, asking to be connected to any of Essentia Health’s six hospital-based and more than 20 clinic-based telehealth services.

Such robust telemedicine adoption among Essentia Health’s more than 800 physicians may be one reason why the organization averages 5,000 virtual visits annually, and why it has another 10 to 20 new telehealth offerings in development, according to Ms. Ideker’s presentation during Telemedicine Across the Care Continuum: Boosting Health Clinic Revenue and Closing Care Gaps.

The largely rural footprint of Essentia Health, which touches the three states of Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota, is ideally suited to telehealth implementation. During this March 2018 webinar, which is now available for rebroadcast, Ms. Ideker outlined her organization’s telehealth program models, history of program development, and equipment and staffing requirements. She also shared key program outcomes, such as the impact of remote patient monitoring on hospital readmissions and clinic ROI from telehealth.

For example, the 30-day readmission rate for Essentia Health patients with heart failure remotely monitored at home is 2 percent, versus its non-monitored heart failure patients (9 percent) and the national 30-day readmissions average of 24 percent.

Essentia Health’s hospital-based telemedicine began with an emergency room platform, which includes pediatric ER and pharmacy and toxicology and a soon-to-be-added behavioral health component. Today, hospitalist and stroke care are the largest of Essentia Health’s hospital-based telemedicine programs, explained Ms. Ideker. These virtual services support Essentia Health’s rural hospitals in five key ways, including the avoidance of unnecessary patient transfers.

On the outpatient side, the 20-something tele-clinic based services developed by Essentia Health over the last seven years run the gamut from allergy and infant audiology to urology and vascular conditions, she explained. Her organization’s telemedicine approach to opioid tapering is catching on across Minnesota, she added.

And while it is appreciative of its providers’ enthusiasm, Essentia Health approaches telehealth development with precision, consulting data analytics such as metrics on annual health screenings to create target groups for new services. The launching of a new telemedicine service can take up to twelve weeks, using a 75-item checklist and an implementation retreat and walk-through, Ms. Ideker explained.

In closing, Ms. Ideker shared several innovation stories from its portfolio of telehealth offerings, including Code Weather, employed during hazardous weather for patient safety reasons and to reduce cancellations of appointments, and a gastroenterology initiative designed to reduce no-show rates.

Listen to Maureen Ideker explain how Essentia Health pairs remote patients with hospital- and clinic-based telehealth services.

CCMI’s Primary Care Initiatives Produce Modest, Mixed Results

February 8th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

Comprehensive Primary Care Initiative Analysis

Comprehensive Primary Care Initiative Analysis: Mixed, Modest Results

The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation’s (CCMI) Primary Care Initiatives have produced modest and mixed results, according to a final review of the program conducted by Kennell and Associates, Inc. and RTI International and released by CMS.

The six CMMI initiatives included in the review are the Comprehensive Primary Care (CPC) initiative, the Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) Advanced Primacy Care Practice demonstration, the Independence at Home (IAH) demonstration, the Multi-Payer Advanced Primary Care Practice (MAPCP) Demonstration, the State Innovation Models (SIM) initiative, and the Health Care Innovation Awards Primary Care Redesign Programs (HCIA-PCR), which CMS identified as the most focused on primary care redesign.

Initiative practices did make large strides toward becoming Patient-Centered Medical Homes (PCMHs) or advanced primary care practices. While less than 10 percent of initiative FQHCs had any PCMH recognition status prior to the initiative, 70 percent achieved NCQA Level-3 recognition by the end of the initiative. Similarly, the CPC evaluation found that CPC initiative practices improved their PCMH Assessment scores by about 50 percent.

While the review did not find consistent impacts across the initiatives or by setting within initiatives for any of the four core outcomes identified by CMS: fee-for-service Medicare hospital admissions, 30-day readmissions, outpatient ED visits, and Medicare expenditures, some of the initiatives did report some positive outcomes.

Of the 22 more granular initiative settings (seven CPC regions, FQHC as a whole, six HCIA-PCR awardees, and eight MAPCP states) for which cumulative results through Year 3 were available, 10 settings experienced improvement relative to their comparison group for at least one of the four core outcome measures at a significance level and three of these settings (two CPC regions and HCIA TransforMED) experienced improvement on at least two core outcomes.

Across four initiatives (CPC, MAPCP, HCIA-PCR, and FQHC), analyses indicated that the aggregate impacts on the core outcomes were small and not statistically significant.

Certain population subgroups and practice types across initiatives experienced more favorable outcomes, according to the analysis. Specifically, beneficiaries originally eligible for Medicare due to disability and beneficiaries with poor health (highest quartile of baseline HCC risk scores) experienced slower growth in Medicare expenditures. However, disability status and HCC risk score were not associated with statically significant impacts on overall rates of hospitalizations or ED visits, and non-dually eligible beneficiaries and those who were not originally eligible for Medicare due to disability experienced lower rates of 30-day readmissions.

The analysis also found slower growth in Medicare expenditures and lower rates of inpatient admissions and ED visits among practices with fewer than six practitioners and also among practices that were not multispecialty practices.

Other key findings from the analysis:

  • There are advantages to both state-convened and CMS-convened initiatives;
  • Practice-level factors are important in addressing transformation challenges; and
  • Initiative-level supports also helped practices meet transformation challenges.

Guest Post: Patient Engagement Technology Tool for Preventing Hospital Readmissions in Chronic Patients

January 23rd, 2018 by Allison Hart, Vice President of Marketing, TeleVox Solutions at West

While almost all chronic care patients say they need help managing their disease, less than one-third receive regular check-ins from healthcare providers.

During the past decade, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have increased the pressure on hospitals to prevent readmissions. In response to that pressure, many hospitals made changes that have led to declines in readmission rates. However, even with more measures in place to prevent readmissions than ever before, the risk of being readmitted to the hospital is still high for patients with chronic illnesses.

Studies have shown that the risk of adverse health effects increases with each hospitalization. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to keep chronic patients from readmitting once they have been hospitalized. Because of this, it is important that healthcare teams prioritize chronic disease management, and work to engage and support chronic patients. One tool that can help with this is the patient engagement technology many healthcare teams already have in place.

Survey responses indicate that chronic patients welcome efforts from their healthcare team that are aimed at managing disease and preventing hospital admissions and readmissions. A West survey found that 91 percent of chronic patients say they need help managing their disease, and at least 70 percent would like more resources or clarity on how to manage their condition. Additionally, 75 percent of chronic patients want their healthcare provider to touch base with them regularly so they can be alerted of potential issues.

Although patients with chronic conditions have expressed that they desire more assistance from their healthcare providers, they are not necessarily receiving it. For example, more than half (54 percent) of patients feel a weekly or twice-weekly check-in from their provider would be valuable, yet only 30 percent of patients report receiving regular check-ins. This shows that, in some cases, providers could be doing much more to offer ongoing chronic disease management support.

Providers seem to be underestimating patients’ interest in chronic care and their desire to receive support. Patients have suggested that they not only want assistance with managing chronic conditions, they would also be willing to pay for that extra support. Many providers are unaware that their patients feel this way. When asked if their patients would agree to pay 10 dollars per month for additional chronic care support, just over half (53 percent) of providers answered “yes.” However, two-thirds of patients say they would be willing to pay a nominal amount for chronic care support. The eye-opening response from patients confirms that chronic disease management is in demand—more so than providers realize. It also suggests that some providers may need to do more to offer ongoing chronic disease management support.

Chronic Care Management Enrollment

One way healthcare teams can better serve chronic patients and potentially prevent readmissions is by enrolling patients in chronic disease management programs. Chronic care programs, like Medicare’s Chronic Care Management program, require a lot of communication on the part of the healthcare team. Automating some of the communication and outreach makes it easier for providers to offer ongoing chronic care support. Healthcare teams can use their patient engagement technology to:

  • Send patients messages to invite them to enroll in a chronic care program. Using information from electronic health records, healthcare teams can identify patients that are eligible for chronic care management programs. (Patients must have two or more chronic conditions to enroll in Medicare’s Chronic Care Management program.) Then, they can use their patient engagement technology to send patients automated messages with information about the benefits of participating in a chronic care program, and instructions or links for patients to enroll or get further information.
  • Schedule disease-specific preventive screenings and tests. The Chronic Care Management program mandates that patients receive recommended preventive services. Care managers can schedule and send patients automated text messages, emails or voice messages to notify them when they are due for preventive screenings and tests. Patients with diabetes, for example, would automatically receive messages when they are due for an A1C test, foot exam or eye exam.
  • Send medication reminders and messages. Providers are required to manage and reconcile medications for patients enrolled in the Chronic Care Management program. Providers can assign medication reminders and send automated messages to ensure patients know how and when to take their medication, and that they don’t forget to take it.

Communication that engages chronic patients and aids them in disease management can result in better health outcomes and fewer readmissions. Engagement communications can be easily automated, meaning outreach does not require excessive time or resources. Hospitals and healthcare providers have incentives to reduce readmissions, and in many cases, they have the technology in place to make chronic disease management efficient and effective.

About the Author: Allison Hart is a regularly published advocate for utilizing technology-enabled communications to engage and activate patients beyond the clinical setting. She leads thought leadership efforts for West’s TeleVox Solutions, promoting the idea that engaging with patients between healthcare appointments in meaningful ways will encourage and inspire them to follow and embrace treatment plans – and that activating these positive behaviors ultimately leads to better outcomes for both healthcare organizations and patients. Hart currently serves as Vice President of Marketing for TeleVox Solutions at West, where the healthcare mission is to help organizations harness communications to expand the boundaries of where, when, and how healthcare is delivered.

HIN Disclaimer: The opinions, representations and statements made within this guest article are those of the author and not of the Healthcare Intelligence Network as a whole. Any copyright remains with the author and any liability with regard to infringement of intellectual property rights remain with them. The company accepts no liability for any errors, omissions or representations.

Infographic: Coded Severity and Readmission Reduction

December 27th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

A federal program that has been shown to reduce hospital readmissions may not have been as successful as it appears, according to a new infographic based on a study by University of Michigan researchers.

The infographic examines how the reduction in patients heading back to the hospital could be attributed to how the diagnoses were coded.

A Collaborative Blueprint for Reducing SNF Readmissions: Driving Results with Quality Reporting and Performance Metrics
Concerned about escalating hospital readmissions from skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) and the accompanying pinch of Medicare readmissions penalties, three Michigan healthcare organizations set competition aside to collaborate and reduce rehospitalizations from SNFs.

To solidify their coordinated approach, Henry Ford Health System (HFHS), the Detroit Medical Center and St. John’s Providence Health System formed the Tri-County SNF Collaborative with support from the Michigan Quality Improvement Organization (MPRO).

A Collaborative Blueprint for Reducing SNF Readmissions: Driving Results with Quality Reporting and Performance Metrics examines the evolution of the Tri-County SNF Collaborative, as well as the set of clinical and quality targets and metrics with which it operates.

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Chronic Care Plus for the Chronically Homeless: ‘Recuperative Care on Steroids’

September 28th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

Chronic Care Plus is designed for ‘Joe,’ a prototypical vulnerable client and frequent hospital user who for some reason has not connected to either his community or healthcare system.

Illumination Foundation’s joint venture pilot, which began as an ER diversion project, now offers community-based stabilization following a hospital stay for medically vulnerable chronically homeless patients. Here, Illumination Foundation CEO Paul Leon describes the origins of Chronic Care Plus (CCP), which has been associated with a $7 million annual medical cost avoidance at all hospitals visited by the 38 CCP clients.

Back in 2008 when we first started, we began to realize that housing was healthcare. With many of the patients we were seeing, although we experienced great success, we ended up discharging them many times back into a shelter or into an assisted living or sober living situation. And although these options were better than being in the hospital or being discharged to the street, we knew we could improve on this.

So, in 2013, we implemented the Chronic Care Plus (CCP) program. Basically, CCP was recuperative care on steroids. It was recuperative care with more tightly wrapped social services and a longer length of stay. At that time, we began a pilot program in conjunction with UniHealth and St. Joseph’s Hospital in which we took the 28 most frequent users and kept them in housing for two years. We also brought these individuals through recuperative care, and wrapped them tightly with social services.

These efforts would eventually lead us to create our ‘Street2Home’ program, which we’re working on now. It implements more bridge housing and permanent supportive housing that is supplied not only by us but by collaboratives in the community. We are able to link to these collaboratives to take our individual, our ‘Joe,’ from a street to eventual permanent housing.

Source: Homelessness and Healthcare: Creating a Safety Net for Super Utilizers with Medical Bridge Housing

home visits

Homelessness and Healthcare: Creating a Safety Net for Super Utilizers with Medical Bridge Housing spotlights a California partnership that provides medical ‘bridge’ housing to homeless patients following hospitalization. This recuperative care initiative reduced avoidable hospital readmissions and ER visits and significantly lowered costs for the collaborating organizations.

SNF Visits to High-Risk Patients Break Down Barriers to Care Transitions

September 21st, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

For patients recently discharged from the hospital, a SNF visit covers the same ground as a home visit: medications, health status, preparing for physician conversations and care planning.

The care transitions intervention developed by the Council on Aging (COA) of Southwestern Ohio for high-risk patients starts off in the hospital with a visit by an embedded coach, and includes a home visit.

Additionally, to reduce the likelihood of a readmission, patients discharged to a skilled nursing facility (SNF) also can expect a COA field coach to stop by within 10 days of SNF admission. Here, Danielle Amrine, transitional care business manager for the COA of Southwestern Ohio, describes the typical SNF visit and her organization’s innovative solution for staffing these visits.

We conduct the home visit within 24 to 72 hours. We go over medication management, the personal health record (PHR), and follow-up with specialists and red flags. At the SNF, we do the same things with those patients, but in regards to the nursing facility: specifically, do you know what medications you’re taking? Do you know how to find out that information, especially for family members and caregivers? Do you know the status of your loved one’s care at this point? Do you know the right person to speak to about any concerns or issues?

We also ask the patients to define their goals for their SNF stay. What are your therapy goals? What discharge planning do you need? We set our SNF visit within 10 calendar days, because normally within three days, they’ve just gotten there. They’re not settled. There haven’t been any care conferences yet. We set the visit at 10 calendar days to make sure that everything is on track, to see if this person is going to stay at the SNF long-term. Our goal is to have them transition out. We provide them with all of the support, resources and program information to help them transition from the nursing facility back to independent living.

For our nursing facility visits, we also utilize the LACE readmissions tool (an index based on Length of stay, Acute admission through the emergency department (ED), Comorbidities and Emergency department visits in the past six months) to see if that person would need a visit post-discharge.

For our CMS contract, we are paid for only one visit. Generally we’re only paid for the visit we complete in the nursing home, but through our intern pilot, our interns do that second visit to the home once the patient is discharged from the nursing home. We don’t pay for our interns, and we don’t get paid for the visit. We thought that was a perfect match to impact these patients who may have a hard time transitioning from the nursing facility to home.

Source: Post-Discharge Home Visits: 5 Pillars to Reduce Readmissions and Engage High-Risk Patients

home visits

In Post-Discharge Home Visits: 5 Pillars to Reduce Readmissions and Engage High-Risk Patients, Danielle Amrine, transitional care business manager at the Council on Aging (COA) of Southwestern Ohio, describes her organization’s home visit intervention, which is designed to encourage and empower patients of any age and their caregivers to assert a more active role during their care transition and avoid breakdowns in post-discharge care.

2017 ACO Snapshot: As Adoption Swells, Social Determinants of Health High on Accountable Care Agenda

June 29th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

Nearly two-thirds of 2017 ACO Survey respondents attribute a reduction in hospital readmissions to accountable care activity.

Healthcare organizations may have been wary back in 2011, when the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) first introduced the accountable care organization (ACO) model. The HHS viewed the ACO framework as a tool to contain skyrocketing healthcare costs.

Fast-forward six years, and most resistance to ACOs appears to have dissipated. According to 2017 ACO metrics from the Healthcare Intelligence Network (HIN), ACO adoption more than doubled from 2013 to 2017, with the number of healthcare organizations participating in ACOs rising from 34 to 71 percent.

During that same period, the percentage of ACOs using shared savings models to reimburse its providers increased from 22 to 33 percent, HIN’s fourth comprehensive ACO snapshot found.

And in the spirit of delivering patient-centered, value-based care, ACOs have embraced a whole-person approach. In new ACO benchmarks identified this year, 37 percent of ACOs assess members for social determinants of health (SDOH). In support of that trend, the 2017 survey also found that one-third of responding ACOs include behavioral health providers.

Since that first accountable care foray by HHS, the number of ACO models has proliferated. The May 2017 HIN survey found that, of current ACO initiatives, the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) remains the front runner, with MSSP participation hovering near the same 66 percent level attained in HIN’s 2013 ACO snapshot.

Looking ahead to ACO models launching in 2018, 24 percent of respondents will embrace the Medicare ACO Track 1+ Model, a payment design that incorporates more limited downside risk.

This 2017 accountable care snapshot, which reflects feedback from 104 hospitals, health systems, payors, physician practices and others, also captured the following trends:

  • More than half—57 percent—participate in the Medicare Chronic Care Management program;
  • Cost and provider reimbursement are the top ACO challenges for 18 percent of 2017 respondents;
  • Clinical outcomes are the most telling measure of ACO success, say 83 percent of responding ACOs;
  • Twenty-nine percent of respondents not currently administering an ACO expect to launch an accountable care organization in the coming year;
  • 75 percent expect CMS to try and proactively assign Medicare beneficiaries to physician ACO panels to boost patient and provider participation.

Download HIN’s latest white paper, “Accountable Care Organizations in 2017: ACO Adoption Doubles in 4 Years As Shared Savings Gain Favor,” for a summary of May 2017 feedback from 104 hospitals and health systems, multi-specialty physician practices, health plans, and others on ACO activity.

Improve Medication Adherence, and Payors Pay Attention

June 20th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan
medication adherence

Training in motivational interviewing helps Novant health set medication adherence goals that are meaningful to patients.

Seeking additional dollars from managed care contracts? Work harder at getting patients to adhere to medication therapies, advises Rebecca Bean, director of population health pharmacy for Novant Health. Here, Ms. Bean describes ways her organization is improving medication adherence, including pharmacist referrals, while enhancing Novant Health’s bottom line.

Medication adherence is a huge focus for our organization. There are some quality measures related to adherence, including CMS Star measures. They are triple-weighted, which indicates they mean a lot to payors. Often, medication adherence is a way to get additional dollars through managed care contracts. Our pharmacists work hard at helping patients adhere to medication therapies.

We have found some benefit to using adherence estimators. Adherence estimators give you a better feel for what is causing the patient to have difficulty with taking their medication. The other finding is that oftentimes providers are unaware; they have no idea patients aren’t taking medications. This becomes a safety issue; providers may keep adding blood pressure medications because they are not getting that blood pressure to goal. If for whatever reason the patient suddenly decides to take a medication they weren’t taking before, there could be a serious issue with taking all of those blood pressure medicines at one time.

The other benefit to estimating adherence and identifying root causes is that it frames the discussion with the patient. I don’t want to spend an hour talking to a patient about why it’s important to take this blood pressure medicine when it’s actually a financial issue. If I know it’s a financial issue, then I can make recommendations on cost-saving alternatives. It helps you to be more efficient in your conversation with the patient.

The other challenge of adherence is that patients are reluctant to be honest about this issue. You have to be creative to get the answers you need or get to the truth about adherence. If you flat out ask a patient if they’re taking their medications, most of the time they will say yes.

One other helpful strategy when working with patients to set adherence goals is to have them set goals that mean something to them. It’s not helpful for me to set a goal for a patient. If I ask them to tell me what they’re going to do, then they’re accountable for that. It is very helpful to get your staff trained in motivational interviewing. This trains them to meet the patients where they are and to understand what is important to that patient, which helps you frame the medication therapy discussion.

Source: Leveraging Pharmacists to Reduce Cost and Improve Medication Adherence in High-Risk Populations

pharmacists and medication adherence

Leveraging Pharmacists to Reduce Cost and Improve Medication Adherence in High-Risk Populations examines Novant Health’s deployment of pharmacists as part of its five-pronged strategy to deliver healthcare value through medication management services.

Shared SNF Patients, Common Readmissions Goals Unify Three Competing Health Systems

June 15th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

A common desire to reduce SNF readmissions resulted in the formation of Michigan's Tri-County SNF Collaborative.

A common desire to reduce SNF readmissions resulted in the formation of Michigan’s Tri-County SNF Collaborative.

Concerned about escalating hospital readmissions from skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) and the accompanying pinch of Medicare readmissions penalties, three Michigan healthcare organizations decided to set competition aside to collaborate and reduce rehospitalizations from SNFs. Here, Susan Craft, director of care coordination, family caregiver program, Office of Clinical Quality & Safety at Henry Ford Health System, describes the origins of Michigan’s Tri-County SNF Collaborative, of which her organization is a founding member.

I want to talk about the formation of the Tri-County SNF Collaborative between Henry Ford Health System, Detroit Medical Center, and St. John Providence Health System. As quality and care transition leaders from each of the health systems, we see each other frequently at various meetings. After some good conversation, we learned that each of us was partnering with our SNFs to improve quality and reduce readmissions.

We all required that they submit data to us that was very similar in nature but not exactly the same, which created a lot of burden for our SNFs to conform to multiple reporting requirements. We knew we were working with the same facilities because geographically, we are all very close to each other. We recognized that this was really a community problem, and not an individual hospital problem. Although we are all competing healthcare systems, those of us with very similar roles in the organization had very little risk from working together. And because we had so much in common, it just made sense that we create this collaborative.

We also worked with our MPRO (Michigan Quality Improvement Organization) and reviewed data that showed that about 30 percent of our patient population was shared between our three health systems. We decided it made sense to move forward. We created a partnership that was based on collaboration and transparency, even within our health systems. We identified common metrics to be used by all of our organizations and agreed upon operational definitions for each of those. We all reached out to our SNF partners to tell them about the collaborative and invite them to join, and then engaged MPRO as our objective third party. We created a charter to solidify that cooperation and collaboration.

Source: A Collaborative Blueprint for Reducing SNF Readmissions: Driving Results with Quality Reporting and Performance Metrics

reducing SNF readmissions

A Collaborative Blueprint for Reducing SNF Readmissions: Driving Results with Quality Reporting and Performance Metrics examines the evolution of the Tri-County SNF Collaborative, as well as the set of clinical and quality targets and metrics with which it operates.