‘Transition Care’ May Lower Hospital Readmissions

Clear communication and education are keys to keeping patients well after discharge.

Arthritis Today—August 2, 2011

According to Arthritis Today, two new studies that appeared in JAMA suggest that programs designed to educate patients on a variety of elements regarding post-admission could help cut costs of Medicare patient readmissions.

The first study implemented a program called Care Transitions Intervention, or CTI, and had success in a controlled setting by coaching patients in person and over the phone in order to “empower individuals to manage their health and communicate effectively with their providers.” The 30-day program asked 1,000 Medicare patients to be involved and of the 257 that agreed, the hospital saw the readmission rate drop nearly 8%. A second study focused on heart failure patients age 65 and older and saw a readmission rate fall 48% in the participating 56 out of 140 eligible Medicare patients.

Though these programs would seem to be successful in lowering the $15 billon annual cost of Medicare patient readmissions, Hospital for Special Surgery’s Geoffrey H. Westrich, MD, considers the short-term details of implementing such plans.

Dr. Westrich is co-director of joint replacement research at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, which performed 8,000 knee and hip replacements last year. Though transition programs likely pay off in the long run, he said, the short-term price tag is a challenge.

In the article Westrich said, “We know if you spend more money on it and had nurses contacting patients postoperatively, I think we would drastically lower our re-admission rates. The problem is there are upfront costs, and who will pay for that? It’s a good concept, and I fully believe in follow-up and transition care, but I think the cost is always going to be a factor.”

Read full story at arthritistoday.org.

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