Issue: All-cause 30 day hospital readmission rate following discharge for ischemic stroke has been instituted by CMS as a quality measure. Successful readmission reduction planning is a hospital imperative.
Purpose: We set out to establish a stroke-specific transitions coaching program with the intention of decreasing readmissions in our ischemic stroke population.
Methods: Fiscal year 2013 stroke readmissions to our hospital were individually reviewed for factors leading to readmission. After determining 62.5% of avoidable readmissions were attributed to outpatient factors, a regional home care agency was contacted for collaboration. The agency has proven readmission reductions utilizing the Coleman Care Transitions Model. This model incorporates visits prior to discharge, by telephone, and at home by a trained transitions coach to ensure understanding of medications, follow up visits, and recognition of concerning symptoms. Cost estimates for expanding the program to stroke patients were made using the prior year’s volume based on primary payer, county, and discharge destination. A business plan was established and training and informational sessions planned.
Results: Of the outpatient factors contributing to readmission the most common were medication issues, seeking emergency care prematurely, and need for education or support. Based on the data and prior successes of the home care agency a pilot program was developed. The estimated cost for patients not covered by their primary insurance is $52,000 annually. The estimated cost for one hospital readmission is $11,200. Preventing 5 readmissions per year would save $56,000. A successful collaborative was formed resulting in the ability to enroll a larger number of ischemic stroke patients in the transitions coaching program.
Conclusions: Solving the problem of readmissions after ischemic stroke is complex and requires extensive planning and collaboration. Identifying our issues and establishing a pilot program took nearly a year. Key stakeholders and a committed team are essential components of establishing a collaborative process of this magnitude. The pilot program will be evaluated by comparting readmission rates in the ischemic stroke population pre and post initiation.