Meeting the Readmissions Challenge

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , November 13, 2013
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This article appears in the November issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

In our July Intelligence Report, healthcare leaders, by far, cited 30-day readmissions as the clinical quality metric that presents the greatest challenge.

What makes that such a tough challenge and how can leaders effectively meet that challenge?

Thomas A. Selden
Southwest General Health Center
Middleburg Heights, Ohio

Thomas A. Selden

Thomas A. Selden, CEO
Southwest General Health Center
On meeting the challenge:

I don't think it's our "greatest challenge." It is one we have been very successful in dealing with. We are a $300 million operation with $120 million of Medicare net revenue. Our readmission penalty in 2013 was $250,000. We have reduced that to $60,000 for 2014. Because they are grading on the curve, the winners and losers, you have to move with it or fall behind. If we had the same position on that bell curve measuring this year, it would have resulted in a penalty next year of $500,000.

On collaborative problem solving:

We take a multidisciplinary approach to solving problems. We identified components of the health system that impact readmissions and decided that we needed a seamless transition of care across the continuum. We have monthly meetings with the multidisciplinary team that reviews the strategies we have implemented and the metrics we have achieved. We implemented a care coordinator on each of the patient units who works with the doctors and nurses to ensure that the process is going smoothly and the patient is getting ready for discharge and knows what they need to know when they leave.

On collaborating with outside partners:

We serve an older population so we collaborate with area nursing homes with a monthly meeting sharing best practices, practice guidelines, and patient education information. We give them a report card on how they are doing in managing the patients pre- and postdischarge. We're trying to streamline patient information for the nursing homes so they know what is going on in the hospitals and they can pick up the chain from there.

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