Success! Florida Hospitals Reduce Readmissions and Complications after Five-Year Campaign

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FLR-thumb1The news out of Florida this week should provide encouragement for healthcare leaders and professionals around the country who are striving to improve patient outcomes.

As a report released this week by the Florida Hospital Association details, over 160 Florida hospitals participated in a five-year campaign to improve poor patient outcomes. The results? “Readmissions dropped 15 percent, surgical complications were reduced by 14.5 percent, and millions of dollars in costs were saved over the first five years that the state’s hospitals worked together on programs aimed at improving hospital quality.”

Before the FHA initiative, Florida had garnered national infamy for its poor outcomes. To reverse this downhill spiral, the FHA undertook several measures: They founded the Florida Collaborative on Reducing Hospital Readmissions, a statewide program that was the first of its kind in the country, and required the 160 participating hospitals “to report readmission rates publicly,” becoming the first state to require this; the FHA and the American College of Surgeons, along with Florida Blue, established the Florida Surgical Care Initiative (FSCI), “the nation’s largest statewide surgical quality collaborative,” with the primary goal being the reduction of surgical complications; and finally, the state immediately jumped onboard “national initiatives to reduce blood stream infections, urinary tract infections, and patient harm.”

The FHA’s report reveals the startling results of this five-year mission:

  • Readmission rates in participating hospitals dropped 15 percent, preventing 1,500 readmissions and saving at least $25 million over two years.
  • Surgical complications are down 14.5 percent in just 15 months, resulting in 89 lives saved, 165 complications prevented, and more than $6.67 million in cost savings.
  • Blood-stream infections are down 41 percent and urinary-tract infections are down 37 percent, resulting in 38 lives saved and more than $16 million in reduced costs.

The report credits the collaborations of the hospitals, an improved culture of communication and teamwork, better data management, and partnerships focused on quality and education, with producing these results.

And the FHA expects to continue in this direction, writing, “Today, hospital initiatives continue. After an initial two-year pilot, FSCI has been extended in association with ACS for at least three more years, and expanded to encourage greater participation. Programs to reduce readmissions, infections, and patient harm continue to be a focus through FHA’s Partnership for Patients Hospital Engagement Network. The network, coordinated through the AHA’s Health Research & Educational Trust, is part of a nationwide project of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.”

Allen Weiss, MD, CEO of NCH Healthcare System and chair of FHA’s Quality and Patient Safety Committee, said, “Though we’ve reached the five-year mark, we see this as just the beginning of our work to provide the best possible care for Florida’s patients. We want to take these lessons and successes, and ensure quality care remains central to all we do.”

As healthcare leaders, do you find the results of the FHA’s campaign to be encouraging? What measures have you taken to reduce readmissions and surgical complications in your organization? How valuable could partnerships with other hospitals be in your initiatives?

-by Pete Fernbaugh

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