CMS Pilot Project Aims To Reduce Hospital ReadmissionsCMS recently announced a nationwide pilot program, the Care Transitions Project, that aims to reduce preventable hospital readmissions for Medicare beneficiaries, CQ HealthBeat reports. According to acting CMS Administrator Charlene Frizzera, agency "data show that nearly one in five patients who leave the hospital today will be readmitted within the next month and that more than three-quarters of these readmissions are potentially preventable."
The pilot program will run through the summer of 2011 in 14 communities nationwide and will examine hospital readmission incidences on a local level to develop tailored solutions for preventing readmissions. The project will rely on "quality improvement organizations" -- groups that contract with Medicare to improve care -- and local providers.
Frizzera in a statement said that the pilot project involves "focusing on how all the members of an area's health care team can better work together in the best interests of their shared patient population." According to Frizzera, "By promoting seamless transitions from the hospital to home, skilled nursing care or home health care, this community-wide approach seeks not only to reduce hospital readmissions but to yield substantial and replicable strategies that achieve high-value health care for Medicare beneficiaries" (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 4/14).
"Medicare could save billions of dollars" if it reversed a trend found in a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showing that one-fifth of all Medicare beneficiaries discharged from hospitals return within 30 days, a New York Times editorial states. The editorial states, "The Obama administration ... has proposed that Medicare use incentives and penalties to encourage hospitals and doctors to cooperate in overseeing care from hospitalization through the first 30 days after discharge," a strategy that the administration says could save $26 billion over 10 years. According to the editorial, the strategy is "a sound idea that should also improve the lives of patients" (New York Times, 4/16).