How Highmark BCBS Helps Reduce Hospital Readmissions

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media , November 13, 2013

Highmark modeled the effort after a care transition program from the Physician Consortium for Performance Improvement. Page Babbitt, director of provider engagement at Highmark, identified these three steps as central to the success of the program:

  • Medication reconciliation process reviewed with the patient prior to discharge.
  • Detailed transition of care plan developed by the inpatient care team.
  • Transmittal of care plan provided to the patient at discharge and to their PCP or specialist physician within 24 hours of discharge.

Babbitt reports that the outcomes from this effort "have been fairly significant." Looking at the 68 participating hospitals over a three-year period, the overall compliance with all three steps increased from 12% in 2011 to 78% this year.

See Also: Toxic Hospital Practices May Fuel Readmissions

There was a 119% increase in the percentage of patients who received the medication list, a 425% increase in the percent of patients who received a transition of care plans, and an 87% increase in the percent of care transition plans that actually made it into the hands of physicians or specialists.

Meanwhile, there was a 2.8% decrease in seven-day readmission rates and a 5% decrease in 30-day readmissions. Overall, Babbitt says the participating hospitals saved almost 1,300 hospital readmissions.

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