The answers may lie in part on building community partnerships, something in which Finder’s hospital has successfully engaged. For example, the hospital has teamed with its local United Way to work with Asian patients on issues related to pain management and palliative care.
At Berkshire Medical Center, a 300-bed community teaching hospital in western Massachusetts, electronic health software helps staff flag patients at admission for potential readmission risks. Looking briefly at the new guide, William DeMarco, DO, SFHM, chief of hospital medicine (and also part of Project BOOST), noticed several new areas they may be able to incorporate into the system.
But adequate data collection and interpretation to help understand these disparities is not always possible, particularly for readmissions, Dr. DeMarco says.
However, as in one of the case studies examined in the DCS guide, Berkshire recently began to identify its high utilizers, pairing multidisciplinary teams with individual primary care providers in order to help meet these patients’ needs.
“It can take several hours for one patient, coordinating and getting a lot of people together,” Dr. DeMarco says. “It’s the only way to accomplish that goal, but it’s very resource intensive.”
Although hospitals traditionally focus on what they can do within their four walls, providers are becoming increasingly aware that the social determinants of health—like transportation, dietary choices, and language barriers—deeply impact some racial and ethnically diverse populations. Now, CMS thinks it’s worth paying closer attention. TH
Kelly April Tyrrell is a freelance writer in Madison, Wis.
- Betancourt JR, Tan-McGrory A, Kenst KS. Guide to preventing readmissions among racially and ethnically diverse medicare beneficiaries. Prepared by the Disparities Solutions Center, Mongan Institute for Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital. Baltimore, MD: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Office of Minority Health; September 2015.
- Rau J. Medicare fines 2,610 hospitals in third round of readmission penalties. Kaiser Health News. Available at: http://kaiserhealthnews.org/news/medicare-readmissions-penalties-2015/. Accessed February 15, 2016.