If you’re a hospitalist interested in reducing readmissions in your hospital, the time to act is now.
Project BOOST (Better Outcomes for Older Adults through Safe Transitions), SHM’s groundbreaking program designed to help hospitals reduce unplanned readmissions, is now accepting applications for two new cohorts: one national and another specific to California. The deadline for applications is August 1.
Now with 85 sites as part of the national community, Project BOOST will introduce new sites across the country in the fall. In addition to the national cohort, Project BOOST will also establish a new cohort in California, with discounted tuition through grants from three healthcare groups in the state.
“It’s a great time to apply,” says Stephanie Rennke, MD, assistant clinical professor of medicine at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center. “We are at the cusp of a lot of big changes in health reform. The time to address readmissions is now. Hospitals will have to address this, and BOOST is one way to do that.”
Hospitals need to realize healthcare reform is coming. Not only is reducing readmissions the right thing to do, it will also have a financial impact for hospitals that don’t address it.
—Stephanie Rennke, MD, assistant clinical professor of medicine, University of California San Francisco Medical Center
Applications are submitted online (www.hospitalmedicine.org/boost) and evaluated based on whether improving discharge and care transitions is a high priority at the institution. Applications must be accompanied by a letter of support from an executive sponsor within the applicant’s hospital.
Once accepted into the program, BOOST participants pay a tuition fee of $28,000. Thanks to the support of the California HealthCare Foundation, the L.A. Care Health Plan, and the Hospital Association of Southern California, sites in California are eligible for reduced tuition based on site location and availability of funds.
For Dr. Rennke, the link between healthcare reform and readmissions is clear, along with the repercussions for hospitals. Most notably, the discharge process affects multiple quality issues, including “patient satisfaction, provider satisfaction and improving communication from hospital to home.”
“Hospitals need to realize healthcare reform is coming,” says Dr. Rennke, who previously served as a Project BOOST site team member and now works as a BOOST mentor. “Not only is reducing readmissions the right thing to do, it will also have a financial impact for hospitals that don’t address it. … It’s going to be of paramount importance to address the discharge process.”
Since it was initially developed through a grant from the John A. Hartford Foundation, Project BOOST has spread to hospitals across the country and received widespread attention throughout the healthcare community.
At the time of Project BOOST’s inception in 2008, readmissions already were an intractable and costly issue for hospitals. The next year, research coauthored by Project BOOST principal investigator Mark V. Williams, MD, FHM, and published in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that unplanned readmissions cost Medicare $17.4 billion annually.
Project BOOST’s pilot cohort consisted of six hospital sites. The program’s growth accelerated quickly, and it soon added another 24 sites and, later, two statewide programs in Michigan and Illinois.
The popularity of Project BOOST among hospitals has captured the attention of media and other organizations as well:
- This year, Kaiser Health News featured the work of Atlanta’s Piedmont Hospital to reduce readmissions using Project BOOST in an article focusing on the impact of healthcare reform laws on hospital readmissions.
- The Bassett Healthcare Network, a Project BOOST site in upstate New York, has earned the Hospital Association of New York State’s prestigious 2011 HANYS Pinnacle Award for Quality and Safety for the group’s care-transition work. The award was presented to Bassett Healthcare Network chief executives in June.
- In California, the Kaiser Permanente West LA BOOST Team was recognized with an award from Dr. Benjamin Chu, president of Southern California Kaiser Foundation Health Plan.
- In December 2010, Dr. Williams and hospitalist Matthew Schreiber, CMO of Piedmont Hospital, shared their experiences with Project BOOST at a national conference hosted by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).