St. Joseph's/Candler: Dropping hospital readmission rates - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

St. Joseph's/Candler: Dropping hospital readmission rates

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

St. Joseph's/Candler is trying something new to help reduce the number of patients readmitted to the hospital. 

The hospital set up a program for folks who are at high risk for readmission, and the results are pretty incredible.

The program is called the Center for Medication Management.

Patients who participated weren’t just less likely to be readmitted to the hospital; if they were readmitted, they didn't have to stay as long.

Sherwood MacDonald is on 33 medications.  He's a diabetic with COPD, and also had a recent bout with pneumonia.  However, now through the new Center for Medication Management program at St Joseph's/Candler, he's making positive changes.

"For the first time, I'm looking at the possibility that I might even be able to come off of the insulin pump," he said.

The program aims to prevent patients with certain conditions from being readmitted to the hospital.

"We focused in on three of our top readmission diagnoses, which are heart failure, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), and Pneumonia," said Heather Seibert, Manager, Center for Medication Management.

It works by having medical professionals help patients manage their recovery for 30 days after their hospital stay.

"Once the patients have gotten home, kind of assess their medications and see where the holes in care are; whether it's setting up further therapies or more diabetic education or questions about their medication," said Suzanne Anderson, Lead Hospitalist, Candler Campus.

The results of the program speak for themselves.  For participating patients, the readmission rate was less than six percent.  For those not seen in the clinic, it was nearly 27 percent.

The future of health care is changing with the Affordable Care Act for both patients and hospitals. When a patient has to be readmitted, it's not only bad for the patient, but it is bad for the hospital.

"This is a growing problem, and it's a costly problem to hospitals," said Seibert.

In fact, Seibert says under the Affordable Care Act, hospitals now face a three percent penalty for readmissions.

"They've done wonders with getting our readmissions rates down, and also if patients do need to be readmitted, their length of stay is lower at that time if they've been involved with the clinic," said Anderson.

"What it has done for me is now put me back in charge of my life," said MacDonald.

The pilot program for the Center for Medication Management started in 2013, and it is now out of the pilot phase. 

The results are so good that they are starting to roll it out to the rest of the hospital units.

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