EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Boston and Beyond

September 15, 2013

Hospitals pay price for 'excessive' readmissions under Obamacare

(Continued)

Helping to fund that program is a $5 million federal grant that will allow the hospital to add seven transition councilors to help patients make the move from hospital to home. The grant will also place four pharmacists in the community and employ nurse practitioners to work with family members and primary care physicians to ensure that post discharge plans are followed.

At UMass Memorial and its sister hospitals, staff members work closely with high-risk patients to ensure that once discharged, they have ample outside resources to help in their recovery.

“We do everything we can to make sure they have a soft landing,” said Klugman.

That includes contacting patients within 24-hours after they are discharged to see if they need further assistance from a nurse. The hospital also is implementing software to identify patients who may require frequent hospitalizations. The measures have already helped the hospital system cut readmission rates by about 20 percent. Whether that’s enough to reduce next year’s Medicare penalty, remains to be seen, says Klugman..

Yet, Baicker remains optimistic.

“The hope is that this improves the quality of care,” she said.

Now that’s something just about everyone – even Medicare – can agree on.

NECIR intern Anais Vaillant contributed to this report.

The New England Center for Investigative Reporting ( www.necir-bu.org ) is a nonprofit newsroom based at Boston University and supported in part by media outlets that include The Eagle-Tribune. NECIR intern Anais Vaillant contributed to this report.

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