CMS clearly has care transitions on its radar, having made $500 million in grant opportunities available to help hospitals, their hospitalists, and community partners work collaboratively to improve transitions and prevent rehospitalizations, observes hospitalist Matthew Schreiber, MD, chief medical officer of Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta.
"But for me, there is little question that today's carrot will turn into tomorrow's stick, so now is the time to get this right," Dr. Schreiber says.
Piedmont was one of six initial sites for SHM's Project BOOST care transitions initiative, and the hospital also participated with a coalition of Atlanta-area community providers that served as one of 14 test sites for the Community-Based Care Transitions Program (CCTP) federal demonstration project. Based on the success of those demos, $500 million in funds were earmarked for CCTP through the Affordable Care Act to support care-transitions projects by community-based organizations partnering with hospitals and by eligible hospitals with community-based partners.
CCTP and its $500 million recently were rolled into a five-year, $1 billion federal reform initiative called Partnership for Patients, which was announced last month by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Its goals are to save 63,000 lives and $35 billion in healthcare costs by reducing preventable hospital-associated injuries by 40% and reducing overall hospital readmissions by 20%, both targets to be achieved by the end of 2013.
In announcing the national Partnership for Patients, CMS administrator Donald Berwick, MD, pledged to "focus first on a set of well-established, evidence-based interventions.” Such interventions, which explicitly include Project BOOST and Boston University's Project RED (Re-Engineered Discharge), will be given preference in CCTP applications. That means hospitals that already are Project BOOST sites or participating in one of the other recognized care-transitions programs and collaborating with other health providers in their communities to enhance the care patients receive following hospital discharge will have a big leg up in qualifying for CCTP funding.
Hospitalists can't obtain these grants by themselves but can be major collaborators in the care-transitions coalitions that can. Long-awaited CCTP application criteria were made available last month.