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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

February 26, 2013 at 4:00 PM

Reducing readmission could save Medicare billions a year

Community involvement and standardization can reduce readmission

Thank you for highlighting Whatcom and Pierce counties’ important work to reduce readmissions [“Innovative steps keep patients out of hospital,” page one, Feb. 17]. Preventing avoidable readmissions is one focus of the Dr. Robert Bree Collaborative, a public-private consortium established in 2011 to improve quality and health outcomes in Washington.

The article highlighted one of two principles that the Bree Collaborative recently endorsed: Reducing readmissions requires a communitywide approach. Once patients are discharged, other providers in the community such as patients’ primary-care physicians must be actively engaged to ensure appropriate and coordinated follow-up care.

Standardization is the second key principle. Variation in discharge practices and policies contributes to the chaotic state of hospital discharges. Standardized practices and forms facilitate effective, coordinated handoffs between hospitals and community providers.

The Washington state Hospital and Medical Associations, Qualis Health, the Puget Sound Health Alliance and others are currently pilot testing a care-transitions tool kit. Although the tool kit is still in draft form, the Bree Collaborative believes that this effort emphasizes both of these principles. All of the organizations involved in this effort deserve recognition for their commitment to solving this vexing problem and achieving high-quality care for all Washingtonians.

–Steve Hill, chair, Dr. Robert Bree Collaborative, Seattle

Comments | More in Health care | Topics: Hospital readmission, Medicare, Puget Sound Health Alliance

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