Ilovebenefits’s Blog

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Getting the Care in Healthcare

Editor’s note: Creative disruption is a powerful force in the battle to reduce spending and improve quality and outcomes.


Each year, about one in five older patients discharged from the hospital is rehospitalized — usually within two weeks — at enormous cost to the health care system and the patient’s well-being.

But when 79-year-old Andy Undem was discharged from Fairview Southdale Hospital after three weeks with pneumonia and a lung infection, he went directly into an experimental program that is pointing the way to billions of dollars in savings for Medicare.

A year-long study at a Minneapolis nursing home showed that focused care by a team of University of Minnesota medical specialists cut the number of older short-term patients who were rehospitalized by 20 percent — to a rate 33 percent below the national average.

The savings could be huge. High rates of rehospitalization cost the federal Medicare program more than $17 billion, a recent study estimated.

“I can’t tell you about savings,” said Undem, a retired president of the old First Produce State Bank in downtown Minneapolis, now site of the Target Center. “I just know their job was to get me better so I could go home, and that’s exactly what they did.”

The program in the Transitional Care Unit at Walker Methodist Care Center is the only one of its kind, officials say. Findings of the state-supported study indicate that if the program were in place at other short-stay centers that help patients transition from hospital to home, the annual savings could top $5 billion.

They are working now to pin down more precise savings and figure out how other short-term care units can adopt the model they have developed.

In the program, a physician, nurse practitioner, pharmacist and sometimes a dentist from the University of Minnesota join forces to care for patients, with special focus on the 75 percent most at risk of returning to the hospital. The idea is to avoid drug interactions, care lapses and other serious but preventable complications that are most likely to send the patient back to the hospital.


July 15, 2009 - Posted by | Creative disruption, Health care delivery, healthcare | , , ,

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