Capital News Service

of the Michigan State University School of Journalism

Program seeks to cut hospital readmissions

By JULIET WANG
Capital News Service 

LANSING—A project called MI STAAR, short for Michigan State Action on Avoidable Rehospitalizations, is aimed at reducing the chances that a patient will be back in the hospital.

Michigan was one of three states selected last year by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement to participate in the national initiative.

There are over 140 hospitals in the state and those that are not participating in MI STAAR are able to join.  Among the participants are Allegiance Health in Jackson, Charlevoix Area Hospital, and MidMichigan Medical Centers in Claire, Gladwin and Midland.

“There’s 144 hospitals in Michigan and the remainder are eligible to participate,” said Sam Watson, senior vice president of the Michigan Health and Hospital Association (MHA).

MI STAAR is being coordinated by Michigan’s Quality Improvement Organization (MPRO) and MHA’s Keyston Center for Patient Safety and Quality.

“There is no fee for hospitals participating in this project” but they may incur some fees, said Watson.

Nancy Vecchioni, vice president of Medicare operations at MPRO, said a key component to reduce rehospitalizations is for hospitals to look at their own records.

“It really opened the eyes of the hospital staff to pull out the readmission data and also interview patients who had be readmitted to the hospital,” said Vecchioni.

“No one knows what happens when they leave the four walls of the hospitals, so its very eye-opening to hear the real-life patient stories of how they fall through the cracks.”

Katie Flannigan, administrator director for the Department of Medicine at Sinai-Grace and project director for MI STAAR, said its mission is to reduce rehospitalization of heart failure patients.

Sinai-Grace uses a technique called teach-back.

“Instead of a nurse or physician coming into the room and lecturing the patient on their medication and the need to check their weight daily, they now require the patient to answer questions and repeat back to them what they, the patient, has learned,” said Flannigan.

Communication between physician and patient helps to lower rehospitalization rates.

“If after discharge the patient can repeat three out of four important facts concerning their illness, the teach-back was successful and the patient has a better chance of staying out of the hospital,” said Flannigan.

Sinai-Grace has been cited for lowering its heart failure readmission rate by 30 percent this past year.

“We started with one patient and one nurse, then two nurses and two patients, and it expanded to the whole hospital,” Flannigan said.

© 2010, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism. Not to be reproduced without permission.

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