Independence Blue Cross Supports New Project to Reduce Hospital Readmissions
Area hospitals will participate through the Partnership for Patient Care
Philadelphia, PA - May 26, 2010 - More than 200 doctors, nurses, and health care professionals met today to launch a new collaborative effort to improve care coordination, reduce hospital readmissions, control health care costs, and improve the quality of health care as part of The Partnership for Patient Care "Preventing Avoidable Episodes" (PAVE) Project. The initiative aims to reduce readmission rates by 10 percent over the 18-month project. The Partnership for Patient Care is a multi-year patient safety and quality initiative facilitated by The Health Care Improvement Foundation (HCIF) and supported and funded by Independence Blue Cross (IBC) and southeastern Pennsylvania hospitals.
To assist in monitoring the readmission reduction project's progress, the Delaware Valley Healthcare Council (DVHC) of the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania is beginning to track hospital readmission rates retroactive to January 2010.
"The last thing anyone who has recently been hospitalized wants is to go back," said Dr Victor Caraballo, senior medical director for Quality Management at IBC. "The PAVE project will help to improve patients' recovery and keep them from avoidable readmissions, and in doing so, will also address ways to lower costs, since hospitalizations are among the most expensive aspects of health care."
IBC has contributed $4.25 million to the Partnership since it launched in 2006. In addition, IBC provided $750,000 to support a 2003 effort by DVHC to improve medication safety at area hospitals, a model that became nationally recognized for enhancing the quality of patient care.
The Partnership initially focused on the prevention of hospital-acquired infections, but has since expanded to address other quality issues such as preventing falls, reducing pressure ulcers, enhancing how medications are monitored to prevent harmful drug interactions and dosing errors, and raising awareness about the threat of MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). Read this press release about the Partnership's success at reducing infection rates.
"The PAVE project will emphasize ways to improve care coordination and communication between health professionals and patients, which are some of the best ways to prevent avoidable hospital readmissions," said Kate Flynn, president of HCIF. "The success of this initiative is dependent upon everyone doing their part - doctors, nurses, patients, families, as well as community caregivers - so that people get the appropriate follow-up they need to stay well and hopefully out of the hospital."
Three project workgroups will study and recommend specific strategies for reducing readmissions. They will focus on the following areas:
- improving communication among patients' different caregivers;
- using personal health records to ensure physicians, home caregivers, and patients have full medical history so that treatment is consistent and complete;
- improving medication management.
According to the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council, in 2008 there were nearly 58,000 readmissions in PA which cost $2.5 billion dollars. Pennsylvania hospitals had an overall readmission rate of about 19 percent, consistent with national rates. For hospitals in southeastern Pennsylvania, total average readmission rates related to complications or infections were lower than expected for congestive heart failure, pneumonia, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
About Independence Blue Cross
Independence Blue Cross is a leading health insurer in southeastern Pennsylvania. Nationwide, Independence Blue Cross and its affiliates provide coverage to nearly 3.3 million people. For more than 70 years, Independence Blue Cross has offered high-quality health care coverage tailored to meet the changing needs of members, employers, and health care professionals. Independence Blue Cross's HMO and PPO health care plans have consistently received the highest ratings from the National Committee for Quality Assurance. Independence Blue Cross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
The Health Care Improvement Foundation (HCIF) is an independent, not-for-profit corporation dedicated to building partnerships for better health care in Southeastern Pennsylvania. With a multi-dimensional focus on health care safety -- in patient care, environmental practices, and disaster preparedness -- HCIF brings together diverse organizations to achieve regional collaboration and improvement.
DVHC represents more than 50 acute and specialty care hospitals and health systems, 30 facilities providing inpatient behavioral health services, and 20 facilities providing rehabilitation in southeastern Pennsylvania. Additional information is available online at www.dvhc.org.