Posts Tagged ‘hospital discharge’

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.

HINfographic: Care Transitions Management 2.0

January 11th, 2016 by Melanie Matthews

Call it Care Transitions Management 2.0—innovative ideas ranging from recording patient discharge instructions to enlisting fire departments and pharmacists to conduct home visits and reconcile medications.

To improve 30-day readmissions and avoid costly Medicare penalties, more than one-third of respondents to the 2015 Care Transitions Management survey—34 percent—have designed programs in this area, drawing inspiration from the Coleman Care Transitions Program®, Project BOOST®, Project RED, Guided Care® and other models.

A new infographic by HIN examines how care transitions data is transmitted, which care transition is the most critical to manage and the top five discharge summary components.

2015 Healthcare Benchmarks: Care Transitions ManagementManagement of patient handoffs—between providers, from hospital to home or skilled nursing facility, or SNF to hospital—is a key factor in the delivery of value-based care. Poorly managed care transitions drive avoidable readmissions, ER use, medication errors and healthcare spend.

2015 Healthcare Benchmarks: Care Transitions Management, HIN's fourth annual analysis of these cross-continuum initiatives, examines programs, models, protocols and results associated with movement of patients from one care site to another, including the impact of care transitions management on quality metrics and the delivery of value-based care. Click here for more information.

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Making a Case for Embedded Case Management: 13 Factors Driving Onsite Care Coordination

April 16th, 2015 by Patricia Donovan

Compliance with Triple Aim goals, participation in CMS pilots to advance value-based care, formation of multidisciplinary teams and avoidance of CMS hospital readmissions penalties are among the factors driving placement of case managers at care points, according to HIN's 2014 healthcare benchmarks survey on embedded case management.

Participation in the Medicare Physician Group Practice Demonstration, the Comprehensive Primary Care Initiative, and the Multi-Payer Advanced Primary Care Practice demonstration has prompted a number of the survey's 125 respondents to embed case managers in primary care practices, hospital admissions and discharge departments and emergency rooms, among other sites.

To help organizations make the case for embedded case management, here are nine more program drivers, in respondents' own words:

  • "Face-to-face contact with complex patients and their family to build trust and relationships, working directly with providers and staff."
  • "Five to 8 percent of patients account for 40 to 60 percent of costs. It is logical. Second, ED visits and discharges represent at-risk patients where interventions can make a difference. Third, focus needs to be placed on fostering better screening results. Effort to reduce utilization."
  • "Pursuing medical home model and team-based care, along with continuum care coordination."
  • "Integration work between medical and behavioral healthcare."
  • "Employer, health system, and payor collaboration to provide population health management in a medical home-like model. Also working on reducing readmissions for high-cost, high-risk conditions such as heart failure, and hospital wanted to develop an ambulatory component to reduce readmissions and improve patients’ quality of life and satisfaction."
  • "Increased care fragmentation related to transitions in care, challenges in utilization between military and civilian network access-to-care, increased need for complex care coordination, etc."
  • "We felt we needed to ensure the case managers were considered a part of the patient-centered medical home (PCMH) team."
  • "Research shows [case managers] embedded at the point of care caring for the whole person in all healthcare environments produces better outcomes."
  • "As a rural hospital, it made sense to make the best use of resources."

Source: 2014 Healthcare Benchmarks: Embedded Case Management

http://hin.3dcartstores.com/2014-Healthcare-Benchmarks-Embedded-Case-Management-_p_4985.html

2014 Healthcare Benchmarks: Embedded Case Management provides actionable data from 125 healthcare organizations leveraging embedded or co-located case management to improve healthcare quality, outcomes and spend—including those applying a hybrid embedded case management approach.

3 Goals of Hospital Home Visits: Reconciliation, Red Flags and Re-Education

April 14th, 2015 by Cheryl Miller

Hospital-initiated home visits conducted during post-discharge follow-up significantly curb avoidable admissions, readmissions and ER visits, according to findings from the Healthcare Intelligence Network's 2013 Home Visits e-survey.

The hospital sector is almost twice as likely to conduct home visits than other sectors, and to focus on three key aspects of the discharge care plan: medication reconciliation, red flag recognition and patient/caregiver education.

Hospitals are much more likely to conduct home visits to conduct post-discharge follow-up than overall respondents, our survey found. Almost two-thirds of hospitals, which comprised 27 percent of the survey 155 respondents, visit patients at home following discharge, versus 43 percent overall. Hospital-initiated home visits are also half as likely to include a home assessment as visits by the overall surveyed population (16 percent of hospitals versus 37 percent of respondents overall).

A case manager most often conducts the home visit on behalf of the hospital; this sector is only one-fourth as likely to send a nurse practitioner on this visit (5 percent of hospitals versus 16 percent overall). The visits focus on key aspects of the discharge care plan: medication reconciliation, red flag recognition and patient/caregiver education.

That said, hospital case managers are more likely than their industry counterparts to offer palliative care during the visit (35 percent versus 29 percent overall), but only about half as likely to discuss nutritional status (29 percent versus 52 percent overall) or assess activities of daily living or ADL (24 percent versus 40 percent overall).

Chart reviews and EHRs comprise responding hospitals’ primary method of identifying patients in need of home visits. This sector is twice as likely to conduct home visits for 10 percent or less of its patient population (65 percent versus 37 percent overall).

Despite the frequency with which it conducts home visits, hospitals are twice as likely to report no return on investment from home visit programs (17 percent versus 9 percent overall), and are twice as challenged by home visit funding/reimbursement (61 percent versus 36 percent overall) and technology limitations (11 percent versus 6 percent overall).

Source: 2013 Healthcare Benchmarks: Home Visits

Home Visits

2013 Healthcare Benchmarks: Home Visits examines the latest trends in home visits for medical purposes, from the populations visited to top health tasks performed in the home to results and ROI from home interventions. This 40-page report analyzes the responses of 155 healthcare organizations to HIN's inaugural industry survey on home visits.

Communication During Care Transitions: Technology, Templates Clarify Handoff Message

March 19th, 2015 by Patricia Donovan

With communication between care sites a top barrier to efficient transitions for one quarter of respondents, HIN's fourth comprehensive Care Transitions Management survey pinpointed information tools getting the message across during patient discharge and handoff.

Technology offers a leg up by way of telehealth and remote monitoring, respondents said; 75 percent of respondents transmit patient discharge or transition information via electronic medical records (EMR).

2015 Care Transition Survey Highlights

  • Discharge summary templates are used by 45 percent of respondents.
  • Beyond the EHR, information about discharged or transitioning patients is most often transmitted via phone or fax, say 38 percent of respondents.
  • Twenty-seven percent of respondents record patient discharge instructions for patients' future access.
  • After communication, inconsistent follow-up is the most frequently reported barrier to care transition management, say 21 percent of respondents.
  • The hospital-to-home transition is the most critical transition to manage, say 50 percent of respondents.
  • Home visits for recently discharged patients are offered by 49 percent of respondents.
  • Heart failure is the top targeted health condition of care transition efforts for 81 percent of respondents.
  • A history of recent hospitalizations is the most glaring indicator of a need for care transitions management, say 81 percent of respondents.
  • Beyond the self-developed approach, the most-modeled program is CMS’ Community-Based Care Transitions Program, say 13 percent of respondents.
  • Eighty percent of respondents engage patients post-discharge via telephonic follow-up.
  • A majority of respondents—72 percent—assign responsibility for care transition management to a healthcare case manager.
  • Download an executive summary of the February 2015 Care Transitions Management survey.

Bundled Payments Opportunity to Practice Proactive Population Management

September 16th, 2014 by Patricia Donovan

Assuming financial risk for the cost of post-acute services not only helps healthcare organizations avoid value-based readmissions penalties but also provides a chance to proactively manage a population, notes Kelsey P. Mellard, vice president of partnership marketing and policy with naviHealth.

We have been called almost a concierge-type service in the way we think about management and engagement with the patient, their family, and their caregivers. We proactively provide a road map to our beneficiaries based on their functional score. Our tools and technology identify their functional abilities upon discharge from the hospital and use that as a driver for identification of a post-acute care setting.

Our functional score is comprised of three domains: basic mobility, applied cognition and daily living skills. Through the assessment of the patient, we identify a patient in our database just like the patient in front of us and say, ‘Patients just like this patient have gone to skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) or home health and have had this level of functional improvement over the course of this length of stay, this many therapy hours per day, and this patient presents with X% of a risk for readmission. Through that prediction, based on historical real patients in our database, we can identify and help target the level of acuity and care this patient actually needs in a post-acute care setting.

Often we discharge patients to a higher level of acuity and care than they actually need. This gives us a tool. It’s not a rule. It’s not the be-all, end-all in our hospital partner settings, but it does create another piece of information based on real patients to help inform the discharge planning process.

We see the level of excitement and engagement our hospital partners exhibit on the ground floor, because right now they’re discharging based on community knowledge or because a case manager really likes one facility or they’re financially interested, from an organizational standpoint, in one facility. This negates all of those conversations and says this is an evidence-based model we’re going to be able to deliver at the bedside.

Source: Bundled Payments: Opportunities in Effective Retrospective Acute and Post Acute Care Bundles

Bundled Payments


Bundled Payments: Opportunities in Effective Retrospective Acute and Post Acute Care Bundles
First quarter experiences from these pilot programs, along with the current bundled payment opportunities for organizations not yet participating in CMMI's pilot program.

7 Ways to Stratify Patients for Health Coaching

July 24th, 2014 by Cheryl Miller

Recruiting patients for health coaching is a multi-faceted process, says Alicia Vail, RN, is a health coach for Ochsner Health System. Health coaches can enlist the services of physicians, case managers and transition navigators for referrals to those patients who would benefit from coaching post hospital or physician discharge.

There are several ways we recruit patients. First, we have created health coach referral criteria to help physicians and staff identify patients who would benefit from health coaching. These patients would need coaching on self-management of chronic health problems such as hypertension, diabetes and obesity. We also get referrals from physicians when they see a patient in their office and identify that the patient could benefit from health coaching. Second, we also identify patients through pre-chart reviews.

Third, we look at labs and other needed or outstanding screenings prior to their appointment and notify the physician.

Fourth, we utilize different lists to help us identify patients. The hemoglobin A1C list helps us reach out to our diabetic patients who have not reached their goal of hemoglobin A1C of 7 or below. The emergency department list allows us to prevent readmissions by having the health coach reach out and capture these patients.

Fifth, HEDIS® measures allow us to focus on needed health screenings or tests for patients.

Sixth, when we meet with our patients for glucometer or insulin training, we have an opportunity to explain and offer our health coaching program at that point.

And lastly, sometimes our in-patient case managers or transition navigators, who help with patient discharge preparation, will refer patients to the health coach for post-hospital follow-ups.

Excerpted from Stratifying High-Risk, High-Cost Patients: Benchmarks, Predictive Algorithms and Data Analytics.

Top Tools, Workflows and Processes for a Patient-Centered Medical Home

February 4th, 2014 by Patricia Donovan

Online tools such as EHRs and registries facilitate care coordination in the patient-centered medical home.


Chart scrubbing, electronic medical records and disease registries form the framework of patient-centered care, according to respondents to the 2012 Patient-Centered Medical Home survey. The following tools, workflows and processes are enhancing patient-centered care delivery by responding organizations, as told in their own words:

  • Added patient advisory council, which has made great suggestions.
  • ‘Electronic medical record (EMR) lite’ with secure e-mail.
  • Extended hours obviating urgent care centers or ER visits.
  • Chart scrubbing: review of the charts of patients coming in for appointments so that the provider is made aware of everything that needs to happen at that visit so it can be taken care of proactively.
  • Microsystems.
  • Registry management.
  • Using lower level (education) workers in the process.
  • Patient profile to include all providers, specific care gaps, etc.
  • Discharge reconciliation registry.
  • Our EMR is the most effective; it supports everything else. Secondly, standardized written protocols/standing orders that allow the healthcare team to provide care that increases office efficiency and quality indicators.
  • It’s not about the tools, it’s about training the people to use the tools effectively and efficiently. ‘LEAN’-ing is not a cure; it’s another aspect of training.

Excerpted from: 33 Metrics for Care Transition Management

3 Nurse Navigator Tools to Enhance Care Management

January 29th, 2014 by Jessica Fornarotto

Where does the nurse navigator spend their day? Certainly on transitions of care. Bon Secours Health System nurse navigators use a trio of tools to identify patients' obstacles to care and connect them to needed resources, explains Robert Fortini, vice president and chief clinical officer of Bon Secours Health System.

One tool that our nurse navigators use that's built into our EMR is the hospital discharge registry from Laburnum Medical Center, one of our largest family practice sites with about nine physicians. This tool is used to identify which patients the navigators need to work with, and it's where the navigators begin and end their day. This registry provides a list of all the patients who have been discharged from one of our hospitals in the last 24 hours, and each patient is listed by the physician. The navigators have to reach out to each of these patients and make telephonic touch within 24 to 48 hours of discharge. Medication reconciliation is extremely important at this time and can be very challenging. When a patient goes into a hospital, often their medications get scrambled, and they come out confused and taking the wrong prescriptions. Nurse navigators spend a lot of time on medication reconciliation at this point.

The Navigators also conduct 'red flag' rehearsals with this tool, so that the patient knows the signs and symptoms of a worsening condition and what to do for it. We also schedule the patient with a follow-up appointment, either with a specialist who managed the individual in the hospital or with their primary care physician. We try to do it as close to the time of discharge as possible, within five to seven days, or more frequently if the risk of readmission is higher.

Second, nurse navigators also use a documentation tool to help manage the care of heart failure patients. This tool allows the navigator to stage the degree of heart failure using a hyperlink called the 'Yale tool.' The Yale tool allows us to establish what stage of heart failure the patient is in: class one, two, three, or four. Then, a set of algorithms is launched based on these stages' failure; we manage the patient according to those algorithms. For example, if a patient falls into a class four category, we might bring them in that same day, or the next day, for an appointment rather than wait five or seven days because they're at more risk. We might also make daily phone calls or network in-home health, as well as make sure that the patient has scales for weight management and an assessment of heart failure status. All of those interventions will be driven by the patient's class of heart failure.

The last tool we use is a workflow for ejection fractions. The patient's ejection fraction will define specific interventions that the navigator will follow.

Excerpted from: Profiting from Population Health Management: Applying Analytics in Accountable Care.

5 Barriers to Optimal Care in the Post-Acute Setting

January 22nd, 2014 by Jessica Fornarotto

Summa Health System's care coordination network of skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) is working to decrease fragmentation, length of stay and unnecessary readmissions while improving outcomes of care. Mike Demagall, administrator of Bath Manor & Windsong Care Center, a participant in this network, identified five barriers to patient care that originated in the acute care setting.

First, we found a lack of quality information received upon transfer from an acute care to a nursing facility and the lag time in identification of post-acute bed availability. The social worker was calling or faxing information to a facility, and the facility took up to 24 hours to respond as to whether a bed was available. That person may have been ready that day; instead it postponed that discharge another day.

We also had barriers to the patient’s acceptance of the need for post-acute care. Social workers and care coordinators at the bedside tell them when it is time for rehabilitation.

The next barrier was family expectations. Does the family feel that they need to go to the nursing home? The hospital staff and the insurers had to spot the appropriate levels of care. One of the concerns we had was, 'Is this going to send a lot of our patients — our referrals — to home healthcare and decrease our referrals by participating in this?' That happened to not be the case at all.

There was still a lack of knowledge and respect toward long-term care (LTC). All the discharge planning individuals, which were the case manager nurses and social workers, were able to tour the facility. Each facility had the opportunity to present their services and what they do. That helped with the overall cohesion of the group, and it moved this project forward.

There was also a lack of quality information received from the nursing facilities on the transfer to an emergency department (ED). That was information that we needed to get back, just as we were asking for information as those residents were coming in.

Excerpted from: 7 Patient-Centered Strategies to Generate Value-Based Reimbursement