Archive for the ‘Transitions in Care’ Category

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.

Reframing the Care Transition Conversation to Increase Home Visit Acceptance

May 9th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan

Sun Health Care Transitions

Patient scripting using the "feel, felt, found" approach increased patients' acceptance of home visits.

In conducting hospital bedside visits to introduce its Care Transitions Program, Sun Health learned that the way its LPNs or social workers described the program to patients influenced their acceptance. Here, Jennifer Drago, executive vice president of population health for Sun Health, provides more detail on scripting developed with the help of a behavioral psychologist that refined the care transition approach, overcame patient objections and increased program acceptance rates.

How did we develop scripting that helped increase patient retention rates? Two things come to mind. First, we changed how we described the home visit. When we were in the hospital or on the phone, we refined our discussion to talk about a brief home visit by a registered nurse. We explained some of the things the nurse would do during the visit and what the patients would gain from them. We reframed the description to highlight what was in it for the patient. And we always describe it as a brief home visit.

Secondly, we worked hard on overcoming objections. We conducted a short survey, and tracked our results over time to determine our top objections. We then framed scripting around each one of those top objections using the “feel, felt, found” approach recommended by our behavioral psychologist.

For example, we taught our nurses to say: “I understand you feel that way. Others in our program have felt that way in the past, but what they’ve found is after they’ve gone through the Care Transitions program ...”

The nurses were able to overcome that objection using that framework. We created scripting for the top three or four objections we normally received, and found that to be very helpful.

Source: The Science of Successful Care Transition Management: Leveraging Home Visits to Improve Readmissions and ROI

advanced care coordination

The Science of Successful Care Transition Management: Leveraging Home Visits to Improve Readmissions and ROI 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®.

Infographic: The Post-Acute Care Landscape

May 8th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

Hospitals can't just leave patient care to chance after patients leave the hospital. They must be more actively involved in managing their patients to ensure that they will receive the most appropriate post-acute care and avoid readmissions, according to a new infographic by eviCore healthcare.

The infographic examines the components of the post-acute healthcare market, guidelines for avoiding unnecessary readmissions and strategies for modernizing post-acute care.

Reducing SNF Readmissions: Quality Reporting Metrics Drive ImprovementsA tri-county, skilled nursing facility (SNF) collaborative in Michigan is holding the line on hospital readmission rates for the three competitive health systems participating in the program.

Henry Ford Health System, Detroit Medical Center and St. John's Providence, along with the state's Quality Improvement Organization (QIO), MPRO, developed standardized quality reporting metrics for 130 SNFs in its market. The SNFs, in turn, enter the quality metrics into a data portal created by MPRO.

During Reducing SNF Readmissions: Quality Reporting Metrics Drive Improvements, a 45-minute webinar on May 11th at 1:30 p.m. Eastern, Susan Craft, director, care coordination, family caregiver program, Office of Clinical Quality & Safety at Henry Ford Health System, will share the key details behind this collaborative, the impact the program has had on her organization's readmission rates along with the inside details on new readmission reduction target areas born from the program's data analysis.

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Infographic: Stopping the Revolving Door of Short-Term Readmissions

April 10th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

Transitioning eligible patients to hospice can help hospitals avoid Medicare's 30-day readmission penalty, according to a new infographic by VITAS.

The infographic examines how hospice can reduce readmission rates and increase patient satisfaction.

Reducing SNF Readmissions: Quality Reporting Metrics Drive ImprovementsA tri-county, skilled nursing facility (SNF) collaborative in Michigan is holding the line on hospital readmission rates for the three competitive health systems participating in the program.

Henry Ford Health System, Detroit Medical Center and St. John's Providence, along with the state's Quality Improvement Organization (QIO), MPRO, developed standardized quality reporting metrics for 130 SNFs in its market. The SNFs, in turn, enter the quality metrics into a data portal created by MPRO.

During Reducing SNF Readmissions: Quality Reporting Metrics Drive Improvements, a 45-minute webinar on May 11th at 1:30 p.m. Eastern, Susan Craft, director, care coordination, family caregiver program, Office of Clinical Quality & Safety at Henry Ford Health System, will share the key details behind this collaborative, the impact the program has had on her organization's readmission rates along with the inside details on new readmission reduction target areas born from the program's data analysis.

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Touting ‘Magic’ of Home Visits, Sun Health Dispels 5 Care Transition Management Myths

April 4th, 2017 by Patricia Donovan


With an average of 299 warm, sunny days a year, Phoenix is a mecca for senior transplants. However, as Phoenix-based Sun Health knows well, when an aging population relocates far from their adult children, there's a danger that if some of them experience cognitive decline or other health issues, no one will notice.

That's one reason home visits are the cornerstone of Sun Health's Care Transitions Management program. Visiting recently discharged patients at home not only tracks the individual's progress with the hospitalization-related condition, but also pinpoints any social determinants of health (SDOH) that inhibit optimum health.

"There are a number of social determinants of health that, if not addressed, could adversely impact the medical issue," explains Jennifer Drago, FACHE, executive vice president of population health for the Arizona non-profit organization. Ms. Drago outlined the program during A Leading Care Transitions Model: Addressing Social Health Determinants Through Targeted Home Visits, a March 2017 webinar now available for replay.

Identifying social determinants of health (SDOH) such as medication affordability, transportation, health literacy and social isolation are so important to Sun Health that SDOHs form the critical fifth pillar of its Care Transitions Program. Modeled on the Coleman Care Transitions Intervention®, SDOH identification and support balance Coleman's four pillars of education, medication reconciliation, physician follow-up visits, and personalized plan of care.

The belief that organizations can effectively execute transitions of care programs pre-discharge or by phone only is one of five care transition myths Ms. Drago dispelled during the webinar. "You will have an impact [with phone calls], but it won't be as great as a program incorporating dedicated staff and that home visit. I can't tell you the magic that happens in a home visit."

That "magic" contributed to Sun Health's stellar performance in CMS's recently concluded Community-Based Care Transitions Program demonstration. Sun Health was the national demo's top performer, achieving a 56 percent reduction in Medicare 30-day readmissions—from 17.8 percent to 7.81 percent—as compared to the 14.5 percent readmission rate of other demonstration participants.

Sun Health's multi-stepped intervention begins with a visit to the patient's hospital bedside. "Patients are a captive audience while in the hospital," explained Ms. Drago. That scripted bedside encounter, which boosted patients' receptivity to the program, addresses not only the reason for the hospitalization (hip replacement, for example) but also co-occuring chronic conditions, she continued.

"The thing that will have the greatest chance of going out of whack or out of sync in their recovery period is their chronic disease, because they're probably not eating the same, they're more sedentary, and their medications likely have been disrupted."

Ms. Drago went on to present some of the intervention's tools, including care plans, daily patient check-ins, and the science behind her organization's care transitions scripts.

After sharing six key lessons learned from care transitions management, Ms. Drago noted that while her organization participated as a mission-based endeavor, others could model Sun Health's intervention and benefit from those readmissions savings. She also shared a video on the Sun Health Care Transitions Program:

Listen to an interview with Jennifer Drago on the science behind care transition management.

Infographic: Transitional Care Management

March 13th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

Transitional Care ManagementMedicare's billing codes for Transitional Care Management (TCM) highlight the importance of timely post-discharge contact with patients by provider offices, and timely face-to-face follow up and evaluation by TCM providers. Incorporating automated patient communications can facilitate efficient and effective handoffs, and support a consistent track of care to help providers earn TCM reimbursements and avoid hospital readmission penalties, according to a new infographic by West Healthcare.

The infographic looks at the financial impact of reducing readmission penalties and examines how automated patient communications can improve care transitions.

A Leading Care Transitions Model: Addressing Social Health Determinants Through Targeted Home VisitsSun Health, an Arizona non-profit organization, launched its Sun Health Care Transitions program in November 2011. Modeled after the Coleman Care Transitions Intervention® and adapted to meet the needs of its community, the program has been credited with keeping readmission rates well below the national average.

Sun Health's program was part of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services' National Demonstration Program, Community-Based Care Transitions Program, which ended in January. Not only did Sun Health lead the CMS demonstration project with the lowest readmission rates, Sun Health also widened the gap between their expected 30-day readmission rate (56 percent lower than expected) and their expected 90-day readmission rate (60 percent less than expected).

During A Leading Care Transitions Model: Addressing Social Health Determinants Through Targeted Home Visits, a March 23, 2017 webinar at 1:30 p.m. Eastern, Jennifer Drago, FACHE, executive vice president, population health, Sun Health, will share the key features of the care transitions program, along with the critical, unique elements that lead to its success.

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Guest Post: Care Transitions Are Susceptible To Breakdowns; Technology-Enabled Patient Outreach Offers Clarity and Improved Outcomes

November 15th, 2016 by Chuck Hayes, vice president of product management for TeleVox Solutions, West Corporation

Technology-Enabled Patient Touchpoints Post-Discharge

A surprisingly simple way to improve care transitions is to reach out to patients within a few days of hopsital discharge automatically with the help of technology.

Transitional care's inherently complex nature makes it susceptible to breakdowns. During care transitions there are many moving parts to coordinate, patients are vulnerable, and healthcare failures are more likely to occur. For these reasons, transitional care is a growing area of concern for hospital administrators and other healthcare leaders.

Errors that happen at pivotal points in care, like during a hospital discharge or transfer from one facility to another, can have serious consequences. Fortunately, strengthening communication and engaging patients can effectively solve many of the problems that transpire during care transitions.

When patients' needs go unmet after being discharged from the hospital, the risk of those individuals being readmitted is high. Around 20 percent of Medicare patients discharged from the hospital return within a month. CMS has taken several steps to try to improve transition care and minimize breakdowns that lead to hospital readmissions. Under the government's Hospital Readmissions Reduction Plan (HRRP), hospitals can be assigned penalties for unintentional and avoidable readmissions related to conditions like heart attacks, heart failure, pneumonia, COPD, and elective hip or knee replacement surgeries.

Between October 2016 and September 2017, Medicare will withhold more than $500 million in payments from hospitals that incurred penalties based on readmission rates. These penalties affect about half of the hospitals in the United States.

Not only are payment penalties problematic, but because readmissions rates are published on Medicare's Hospital Compare website, public opinion is also worrisome for hospitals with a high number of readmissions.

A surprisingly simple way to prevent patients from returning to the hospital is to reach out to them within a few days of discharge. Outreach can be done automatically with the help of technology. For example, with little effort, hospitals can send automated messages prompting patients to complete a touchtone survey. A survey that asks patients whether they are experiencing pain–and whether or not they have been taking prescribed medications–provides good insight about the likelihood of them returning to the hospital. It also allows hospitals to respond to issues sooner rather than later.

Medical teams know that patients are particularly vulnerable during the 30 days following a hospital discharge. Leveraging technology-enabled engagement communications multiple times, in multiple ways throughout that month-long window is a good strategy for improving post-discharge transitions. Whether that involves reminding a patient about a follow-up appointment, asking them to submit a reading from a home monitoring device, verifying that they are tolerating their medication, or communicating about something else, it is important to have plans in place to initiate an intervention if necessary.

For example, if a patient indicates that they are experiencing side effects or symptoms that warrant examination by a doctor, a hospital team member should escalate the situation and help coordinate an appointment for the patient. Recognizing problems is one component of improving care transitions, responding to them is another.

Imagine a patient has recently been released from the hospital after having a heart attack. The patient was given three new prescriptions for medications to take. He may have questions about when and how to take the medications or whether they can be taken in combination with a previous prescription. Hospital staff can use technology-enabled communications to coordinate with the patient's primary care doctor and pharmacy to ensure the patient has all the information they need to safely and correctly follow medication instructions. The hospital can also survey the patient to find out if he is having difficulty with medication or other discharge instructions, and learn what services or interventions might be beneficial. Following that, a care manager can provide phone support to answer questions.

Fewer than half of patients say they're confident that they understand the instructions of how to care for themselves after discharge. Without some sort of additional support, what will happen to those patients? In the past, hospitals may have felt that patient experiences outside the walls of their facility were not their concern. But that has changed.

Care transitions are exactly that–transitions. They are changes, but not end points. Hospitals should foster a culture that recognizes and supports the idea that care does not end at discharge. It continues, just in a different way. When patients physically leave a hospital, the manner in which care is delivered needs to progress. Rather than delivering care in person, healthcare organizations can support patients via outreach communications. The degree to which that happens impacts how well (or poorly) transitions go for patients.

Improving care transitions is not as daunting as it might seem, particularly for medical teams that use technology-enabled communications to support and engage patients. To ensure patients have the knowledge and resources they need, and that they are acting in ways that will keep them out of the hospital, medical teams must focus on optimizing communications beyond the clinical setting.

About the Author: Chuck Hayes is an advocate for utilizing technology-enabled communications to engage and activate patients beyond the clinical setting. He leads product and solution strategy for West Corporation’s TeleVox Solutions, focusing on working with healthcare organizations of all sizes to better understand how they can leverage technology to solve organizational challenges and goals, improve patient experience, increase engagement and reduce the cost of care. Hayes currently serves as Vice President of Product Management for TeleVox Solutions at West Corporation (www.west.com), 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.

Engage a Pharmacist and 12 More Prescriptions for Medication Management

October 20th, 2016 by Patricia Donovan

Half of medication management programs engage retail or community pharmacists in 2016.

When should a pharmacist be brought in for a medication management consultation?

When the patient requests a consult, experiences general medication adherence issues, or suffers complications from medications, say respondents to the 2016 Medication Management survey by the Healthcare Intelligence Network.

The 101 respondents to the August 2016 survey also indicated that as a general medication management guideline, and with or without a pharmacist's involvement, polypharmacy patients, individuals taking high-risk medications, those registering frequent ER or inpatient stays and those transitioning between care sites should receive priority.

Drilling down to clinical red flags for medication management, a diagnosis of diabetes is a key indicator, say 84 percent, followed by congestive heart failure or hypertension, say 81 percent of respondents.

Despite the inclusion of pharmacists in 90 percent of medication management programs, 42 percent of respondents say pharmacists are not currently reimbursed for medication management-related tasks.

Other medication management metrics documented by the survey include the following:

  • The three most common components of medication management programs are education and health coaching (71 percent), a medication needs assessment (69 percent) and pharmacist counseling (68 percent).
  • A pharmacist-driven clinical assessment is the most reliable standard for measuring medication management, say 63 percent of respondents.
  • E-prescribing and aids such as medication event monitoring system (MEMS) caps, pillboxes and calendars are the most common medication management tools, according to 49 percent of participants.
  • Patient-reported medication data is the information most commonly assessed for medication management, say 78 percent, closely followed by medication refill patterns (75 percent) and claims data (53 percent).
  • Half of responding medication management programs engage a retail or community pharmacist.
  • Fifty-eight percent of respondents not currently engaged in medication management plan to launch a program in the coming year.
  • Forty-four percent of respondents share electronic health records for medication management purposes.
  • Beyond a pharmacist-driven assessment, the Medication Possession Ratio (MPR) is the key measure of medication management for 31 percent of respondents.

Click here to download an executive summary of survey results: Medication Management in 2016: Polypharmacy, Diabetes Patients Priorities for Pharmacist-Led Interventions.

‘Connect the Dots’ Transitional Care Boosts ROI by Including Typically Overlooked Populations

October 11th, 2016 by Patricia Donovan

Typically overlooked patient populations do benefit greatly from nurse-directed transitional care management.

Some typically overlooked patient populations do benefit greatly from nurse-directed transitional care management.

Determining early on that transitional care works better for some patients than others, the award-winning Community Care of North Carolina (CCNC) transitional care (TC) program is careful to allocate resource-intensive TC interventions to those patients that would benefit most. Here, Carlos Jackson, Ph.D., CCNC director of program evaluation, explains the benefits of including often-overlooked patients in TC initiatives.

Transitional care must be targeted towards patients with multiple, chronic or catastrophic conditions to optimize your return on investment. These patients are the ones that benefit the most. It’s the 'multiple complex' part that is the key; this includes conditions that are typically overlooked in transitional care, such as behavioral health or cancers.

We may pass over and not focus on these patients in typical transitional care programs, but actually, they do benefit greatly from our nurse-directed transitional care management.

For example, with a cancer population, transitional care keeps them out of the hospital longer. The transitional care is not necessarily preventing or curing the cancer, but it’s helping to connect those dots in a way that keeps them from returning to the hospital. Again, we are also talking about complex patients. This is not just anybody with cancer; this is somebody with cancer and multiple other physical ailments as well.

The same is true for people who come in with a psychiatric condition. Again, we’re talking about a very sick population. For every 100 discharges, without transitional care almost 100 of these patients will go back to the hospital within the next 12 months. That’s almost a 100 percent return to the hospital. But with transitional care, only about 80 percent return to the hospital within the coming year.

This translates to an expected savings of nearly $100,000 just in averted hospitalizations per 100 patients managed. We were able to demonstrate that the aversions happened not only with the non-psychiatric hospitalizations, but also on the psychiatric hospitalizations.

Even though nurse care managers often tend to be siloed, by doing this coordinated ‘connecting the dots’ transitional care, they were able to prevent psychiatric hospitalization. That certainly has implications for capitated behavioral health systems. We don’t want to forget about these individuals.

Source: Home Visits for Clinically Complex Patients: Targeting Transitional Care for Maximum Outcomes and ROI

http://hin.3dcartstores.com/Home-Visits-for-Clinically-Complex-Patients-Targeting-Transitional-Care-for-Maximum-Outcomes-and-ROI_p_5180.html

Home Visits for Clinically Complex Patients: Targeting Transitional Care for Maximum Outcomes and ROI describes the award-winning Community Care of North Carolina (CCNC) transitional care program, how it discerns and manages a priority population for transitional care, and why home visits have risen to the forefront of activities by CCNC transitional care managers.

UPMC: INTERACT Tools Boost Provider Communication in RAVEN Project to Reduce Long-Term Care Hospitalizations

September 6th, 2016 by Patricia Donovan
UPMC reduces long-term care hospitalizations

Even custodial or housekeeping staff can use the INTERACT Stop and Watch tool to record subtle changes in a patient.

The RAVEN (Initiative to Reduce Avoidable Hospitalizations among Nursing Facility Residents) project by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), aimed at improving quality of care for people residing in long-term care (LTC) facilities by reducing avoidable hospitalizations, is set to enter phase two in October 2016. Here, April Kane, UPMC's RAVEN project co-director, describes a pair of key resources that have enhanced communication between providers, particularly those at the eighteen nursing homes collaborating with UPMC on the RAVEN project.

Currently INTERACT (Interventions to Reduce Acute Care Transfers) is a quality improvement project and has been funded through Medicare. It is designed to improve the early identification, assessment, documentation, and communication about changes in the status of residents in skilled nursing facilities (SNFs). The goal of INTERACT is to improve care and reduce the frequency of potentially avoidable transfers to the acute hospital. These tools are free online.

INTERACT is used in multiple settings, but in our long-term care setting, we've been primarily encouraging the use of two INTERACT tools. There are a wealth of others. First is the Stop and Watch tool. This is a very easy early detection tool that would be used by members of your nursing home staff, such as nurses aides, custodial or housekeeping staff, and other workers who have a lot of one-on-one engagement with residents.

Using this tool, they may notice subtle changes, such as a patient who isn't as well engaged, who has been eating or drinking a little less, or is not as communicative as they had been before. It's a very easy one-page tool. Sometimes it's a card where they can circle if they're seeing something different, for example, "The resident seems a little different," or "They ate less."

The goal would be to take that tool to either the LPN or the RN in charge of the unit they're working on and say, "You know, I was with Mrs. Smith today. This is what I've been seeing that's a little different with her." That nurse should take that tool, validate its usage and then from there, go in and assess the patient.

If appropriate, they should utilize a second INTERACT tool, SBAR (Situation, Background, Assessment, Recommendation), to provide a more thorough assessment of what is going on and determine if this is a true changing condition. The SBAR allows the nurse to provide feedback to physicians in the very structured format physicians are used to reviewing. This allows them to place all the vitals and information in one place.

When they do make that call to the physician, they're well prepared to update them with what is going on with a particular resident. The physician then feels comfortable in deciding whether to provide further treatment on site or if appropriate, to transfer out to the hospital, depending on that resident's need.

Click here for an interview with April Kane on the value of UPMC's onsite enhanced care coordinators in the RAVEN project.