ROCKY HILL, Conn. (Mar. 29, 2012) – Qualidigm, the consulting and research company in Rocky Hill whose mission is advancing improvement in the quality, safety and cost-effectiveness of health care, today concluded its first “Care Transitions Leadership Academy.” The free, two-day leadership forum convened 350 statewide health care providers at the Aqua Turf Club in Plantsville, March 22 and 29.
Qualdigm’s Care Transitions Leadership Academy offers leadership education and relationship-building opportunities toward the goal of reducing preventable hospital readmissions for all causes or disease states. The Academy’s leadership curriculum includes national perspectives on care transitions, care transition safety, best practices, essential skills for community leaders, action planning, case studies, palliative care, data sources, analysis and interpretation, and intervention planning.
Participating health care providers came from hospitals, home health care agencies, nursing homes, Hospice agencies, the physician community and community-based organizations throughout Connecticut.
Initially, Qualidigm’s Communities of Care initiative represented 12 Connecticut hospitals, 67 nursing homes and 35 home health organizations. It is anticipated that the number of Communities will significantly grow as providers statewide accept the challenge of reducing hospital readmissions.
Communities of Care participants collaborate and communicate closely with each other on a voluntary basis to ensure that patients being discharged from their respective communities’ hospitals are not readmitted due to failures in communication or coordination of care gaps between varying health care settings. They also work toward standardizing systems that include the critical information which should accompany every patient as they move from one health care setting to another or return home.
Qualidigm introduced Communities of Care two years ago to focus on reducing hospital readmissions for patients with heart failure. The preventive initiative has grown more than three-fold and was recently expanded to focus on “all cause” readmissions, not just readmissions for patients with heart failure.
“There is already consensus among its participants from Connecticut’s health care continuum that the relationships, new processes and best practices that Qualidigm has helped us forge have been invaluable to the goal of reducing preventable hospital readmissions,” said Alison L. Hong, M.D., interim vice president of The Connecticut Hospital Association (CHA) and an Academy presenter.
“The processes and best practices developed through Communities of Care collaboration and community-building can be effectively applied to prevent unnecessary visits to the hospital for patients with other diseases – or ‘all-cause’ – readmissions as well,” said Qualidigm CEO Marcia K. Petrillo, a recognized visionary in the design and implementation of quality improvement and patient safety initiatives, who provided opening remarks.
As Connecticut’s Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) charged with the responsibility of protecting the rights for all Medicare beneficiaries in the state, Qualidigm launched Communities of Care, recognizing that one out of five Medicare patients who were hospitalized for heart failure were readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of discharge.
Qualidigm’s Communities of Care initiative is now designed to support a national goal to reduce 30-day readmissions by 20 percent from 2010 to 2013. Financial penalties for hospitals with higher than expected 30-day readmission rates will begin in 2013.
“The prevalent and costly national trend of unnecessary hospital readmissions is a huge emotional and physical drain on patients and families,” said Anne Elwell, Qualidigm’s vice president of Community Relations, “and costs the national health care system approximately $26 billion per year. This cost equates to approximately 836,000 U.S. readmissions per year that could be prevented if we all connected the dots better across patient and provider communication, patient and care-giver education and follow up when a patient leaves the hospital,” Elwell noted.
Howard Dubin, M.D., Qualidigm consultant and medical director of MidState Medical Center’s Hospitalist Program in Meriden, describes Qualidigm’s Communities of Care momentum as an “impressive paradigm shift.”
“Prior to Qualidigm’s preventative initiative, physicians used to think of hospital discharges. Now we think in terms of closely coordinated and facilitated transitions to other health care settings or home,” said Dr. Dubin. “Before we thought of discharging a patient from a hospital; now we acknowledge transitioning a patient into a community aimed at closely coordinating the person’s care on an ongoing basis, including family, physicians and other health care providers.”
Qualidigm’s Care Transition Leadership Academy receives input from a comprehensive Advisory Panel comprised of a diversity of health care stakeholder groups, including state health care agencies, health plans, physician specialty societies, voluntary health organizations, community social service providers, consumers and Connecticut’s business community.
Qualidigm’s next Care Transition Leadership Academy will be held in May, 2012.
In December 2011, the Hartford Business Journal honored Qualidigm’s Communities of Care with its Health Care Heroes Award for Advancement in Healthcare Prevention. Last February, WTNH News 8 Health Care Reporter Jocelyn Maminta interviewed a cross-section of Communities of Care representatives. Those interviews launched the local ABC-affiliate’s Doctors’ Days programming, which aired on WCTX/MyTV9 and subsequently was featured on Connecticut Styles.
“Communities of Care brilliantly and compassionately seek to improve medical and communications processes that can only lead to better health care outcomes,” said Maminta.
With funding made possible from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Qualidigm produced and distributed a series of free, evidence-based instructional videos that are being used nationwide by hospitals, nursing homes, home care agencies, specialty care practices, physicians, Hospice representatives, care-givers, families and others. The videos, “Heart Talk: Living with Heart Failure,” represent a growing acceptance of standardization in medical care and are a part of a larger momentum to make sure that patient care is carefully coordinated across health settings.
The first video is geared toward licensed professionals, while the second is for nursing assistants. The third video is customized for patients, families and care-givers. Collectively, these videos focus on the key recommendations that, if followed, can help patients with heart failure live a healthier life without unnecessary hospitalizations. The videos are in English, Polish and Spanish and are available at www.HeartTalk@qualidigm.org . Qualidigm Consultant Jason W. Ryan, M.D., a cardiologist at the University of Connecticut’s John Dempsey Hospital and co-director of the UConn Heart Failure Center, assisted with content development and narrates “Heart Talk.”
Editor’s Note: To access presentations delivered at Qualidigm’s Care Transitions Leadership Academy, go to www.Qualidigm.org.