Nov. 20—Eleven independent Michigan hospitals were able to cut their readmission rates for cardiac failure under a year-long data-and-intervention-sharing program, new data showed.

The 11 southeast Michigan hospitals in the collaborative were able to cut their 30-day heart failure readmission rates by 9.47 percent from May 2012 to April 2013, recently available Medicare claims data found. That cut compared to a statewide 4.86 percent drop in cardiac readmissions.

The initiative was led by the Greater Detroit Area Health Council and based on the American College of Cardiology’s program that aims to reduce cardiac failure readmissions.

“The success of this project demonstrates the benefits of community collaboration,” said Lisa Mason, vice president of cost quality at GDAHC.

The heart of the program was monthly online meetings of hospital officials during which experts suggested readmission reduction steps providers could take and give hospitals “assignments,” such as performing a gap analysis.

“The discipline of being in a project where you have assignments helps you focus,” Mason said.

Savings Targeted

The meetings led participating hospitals to develop a variety of individual initiatives, such as streamlining processes for identifying heart failure patients prior to discharge and providing a list of transportation resources for patients who have difficulty getting to their follow-up appointment.

Participating hospitals also received Medicare data from Michigan’s Quality Improvement Organization, MPRO, to help them assess their progress in reducing the readmissions.

The initiative’s focus on heart failure--the most common reason for a readmission—came as Medicare moves into its second year of penalties for hospitals with higher than average readmission rates. Medicare heart failure readmissions averaged 24.4 percent in 2010, nationally, and 26 percent in Michigan from July 2007 to June 2010, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

“With CMS readmission penalties certainly you’re already motivated and incentivized to do that sort of thing,” Mason said in an interview. “But the structure of a collaborative contributes to that discipline that you need and helps you focus your efforts.”

Savings Can Spread

Although the initiative has ended, Mason expects the initiatives it spawned to continue providing benefits and possibly to spread to other conditions at high risk for readmission.

“You have the cost of contacting all discharged patients, versus what we are learning from these efforts is who it pays off to contact,” Mason said. “The general conclusion seems to be that it probably does make sense to focus on your higher risk patients for the calls.”

Hospitals funded their own readmission reduction programs spawned by the collaborative but estimated savings have not yet been produced.

Participating hospitals included Beaumont-Grosse Pointe, Crittenton Hospital and Medical Center, Garden City Hospital, Henry Ford Macomb Hospital, McLaren – Macomb, Providence Hospital, St. John Macomb-Oakland Hospital, St. John Hospital and Medical Center, St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Ann Arbor, St. Joseph Mercy Oakland, and the VA Ann Arbor Health Care System.

Publication Date: Wednesday, November 20, 2013