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By Richard Asinof
PROVIDENCE – A new study published in the Jan. 23 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association showed a marked decrease in hospitalizations and readmissions of Medicare patients in Rhode Island as a result of interventions coordinated by HealthCentric Advisors, a quality improvement organization.
The results show that interventions aimed at improving care transitions – when patients move from one care setting to another, such as from a hospital to their home – reduced readmissions for Medicare patients by almost six percent in 14 select communities nationwide, including in Rhode Island.
Healthcentric Advisors is one of the 14 state-based quality improvement organization that received funding from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to participate in the pilot project.
According to the study, 14 state-based quality improvement organizations averaged a 5.7 percent reduction in readmissions. A less expected result was that Medicare beneficiaries in the communities also experienced a 5.74 percent reduction in hospitalizations over the two-year period.
In the Rhode Island pilot community, there was a 6.66 percent reduction in readmissions of Medicare patients and a 7.47 percent reduction in hospitalizations.
Communities of comparable size, demographics and hospitalization utilization – but where there were no concerted efforts to improve care transitions – averaged considerably more modest reductions, just a 2.05 percent drop in readmissions and a 3.17 percent decline in hospitalizations, according to the study.
Healthcentric Advisors was one of the first quality improvement organization to demonstrate the real-world impact of care transitions, according to John Keimig, president and CEO of Healthcentric Advisors. “What we learned from [our work during] 2008-2011 is that transitions of care is not just a hospital problem, but a community-wide issue,” said “Today, we are working with Rhode Island providers, both traditional and non-traditional, to support local collaborations and community-based approaches to facilitate safe transitions of care and enhance community support to keep patients healthy and home after a hospitalization.”
Within the 14 communities, researchers found that quality improvement interventions prevented about 6,800 hospitalizations and 1,800 readmissions per year. In an average community of 50,000 fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries, the project would have saved Medicare more than $4 million per year in hospitalization costs, while costing less than $1 million per community per year to implement.