Kerry Weiner, MD, acknowledges gaps in the continuity of care for many hospitalized patients, with the critical time being the first few days, or even hours, after leaving the hospital. The only provider who "really understands" what needs to happen next for the patient "is the hospitalist,” says Dr. Weiner, chief clinical officer for IPC The Hospitalist Co.
For the past decade, IPC has staffed a care-transitions call center at its corporate headquarters in North Hollywood, Calif. Twenty nurses, case managers, and patient representatives attempt to contact all patients discharged to home by IPC hospitalists within 48 to 72 hours.
According to data presented last December at an Institute for Healthcare Improvement national quality forum, IPC call centers reached out to nearly 350,000 patients discharged between October 2010 and September 2011. The calls were successful 30% of the time, and a fifth of the contacted patients needed an intervention. IPC calculates that those interventions prevented 1,782 avoidable readmissions.
According to Dr. Weiner, call center staff follow discharge instructions from the hospitalists using brief, customized, technology-driven reports. They focus on key points that could become health issues in the first few days after discharge.
IPC hopes to expand its care-transitions continuum, in part by prioritizing those patients who need to be called and reaching more of them, he adds.