With more than one-third of hospitalized patients in California readmitted within a year, a new statewide initiative will focus on reducing preventable readmissions. Project BOOST (Better Outcomes for Older adults through Safe Transitions) is designed to reduce 30-day readmissions rates, enhance patient satisfaction, and improve the flow of information between hospitals and outpatient physicians. The program also ensures that high-risk patients are identified and patient and family education processes are improved.
Funding from the California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF) will enable 20 California hospitals to be trained by the Society of Hospital Medicine (SHM) on Project BOOST, which was originally developed by SHM in 2008. CHCF's support will cover a share of technical assistance costs for each hospital accepted into the collaborative; individual hospitals will pay a fee of $14,500.
In addition to being dangerous to patients — and a potential predictor of overall health care quality — readmissions are costly. A 2009 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that unplanned readmissions cost Medicare $17.4 billion annually. The Obama Administration has identified readmissions as a potential source of savings, including reducing payments to hospitals with high numbers of patients who are readmitted.
"California is a microcosm for the challenges and opportunities for hospital care in the American health care system," said Janet Nagamine, R.N., M.D., S.F.H.M., program leader for the California BOOST program. "Reducing readmissions requires intense attention to detail, strong communication skills, patience, and a systemic, team-based approach — all of which Project BOOST can help instill."
"While physicians who specialize in hospital medicine may provide excellent care to their patients in the hospital, too many fall through the cracks after discharge," said Kate O'Malley, R.N., senior program officer in CHCF's Better Chronic Disease Care Program. "Project BOOST provides education, tools, and mentoring for hospital physicians to link their patients' care with community physicians."
During the first year hospitals will begin improving their discharge procedures using SHM's Project BOOST toolkit and one-on-one mentorships with leaders in the field. The second year will focus on training additional mentors in California, as part of an effort to build a sustainable infrastructure to allow gains to quickly spread throughout the state. Recruiting for the California sites has just begun. Potential applicants can visit www.hospitalmedicine.org/boost for more information.
About the Society of Hospital Medicine
SHM is the premier medical society representing hospitalists. Over the past decade, studies have shown that hospitalists decrease patient lengths of stay, reduce hospital costs and readmission rates, all while increasing patient satisfaction. Hospital medicine is the fastest-growing specialty in modern health care, with over 31,000 hospitalists currently practicing and an upward growth trajectory in full force. For more information about SHM, visit www.hospitalmedicine.org.