(LONG BEACH, Calif. – May 29, 2014) — Dan Osterweil, MD, medical director at SCAN Health Plan, called for a heightened focus on “cross-care continuum collaboration” as a way to reduce hospital readmissions, which have become a major crisis in America’s healthcare system. Dr. Osterweil made his remarks as part of his presentation at the 40th annual meeting of the California Association of Long Term Care Medicine (CALTCM), held earlier this month in Los Angeles.
“Cross-care continuum collaboration between payer, provider, hospital and nursing home is an effective mechanism in avoiding unnecessary hospital readmissions and improving care transitions,” said Dr. Osterweil. “This takes teamwork, training and systems that are designed to promote early intervention and timely communication.”
Readmission rates are a major concern for America’s healthcare and with good reason. Nearly one in five seniors who are hospitalized return to the hospital within 30 days, according to a 2013 release report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. These readmissions are not only often physically and mentally debilitating to the seniors and their families, but contribute greatly to avoidable and unnecessary expenses on our nation’s healthcare system. The cost associated with hospital readmissions in America is $97 billion annually, yet a February 2013 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found no link between readmissions and improved health outcomes.
In the poster session Dr. Osterweil and collaborators emphasized the INTERACT (Interventions to Reduce Acute Care Transfers) program that allows nurses in a skilled nursing facility to identify important changes in residents’ behavior and health status. Dr. Osterweil stressed the importance of training staff in using the INTERACT tools, which improves early identification, assessment, documentation and communication about such changes.
“Three months of engaged coaching achieves optimal implementation,” he said. “The involvement of nursing home medical directors and other clinicians is critical to reducing unnecessary hospital readmissions.”
The 2014 CALTCM conference was attended by physicians, nurses, nursing home administrators and other healthcare professionals. Sponsors included SCAN Health Plan, Providence Health System, the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists—California Chapter, Aging Services of California, California Association of Health Facilities, California Culture Change Coalition, Coalition for Compassionate Care of California, and Health Services Advisory Group.
The California Association of Long Term Care Medicine is the professional leadership organization for California that helps set educational standards for long-term care medicine providers, strives to improve the quality of care in nursing homes, and is the voice of and advocate for care practitioners in California. Founded in 1975, the organization changed its name to CALTCM in 2000 to better reflect the interdisciplinary team approach needed to carry out its mission of promoting quality patient care across the long-term care continuum through medical leadership and education.
As a health plan dedicated exclusively to seniors and others on Medicare, SCAN’s sponsorship of the CALTCM conference is part of its long-standing commitment to better understand the aging process and advocate on behalf of the needs of seniors. In March SCAN held its 12th annual “Leadership and Management in Geriatrics Conference” in collaboration with the UCLA Geriatric Education Center, designed to equip professionals with the tools needed to change behavior in ways that lead to a better patient experience.
SCAN Health Plan is one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit MAPD plans currently serving 170,000 members in California. Further information may be obtained at scanhealthplan.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/scanhealthplan.
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