A poster presented at HM12 in San Diego last April describes a standardized, systematic, multidisciplinary clinical pathway for treating acute VTE (venous thromboembolism) in an urban hospital serving a high proportion of the uninsured.3 Implementing the pathway in February 2011 “dramatically reduced hospital utilization and cost, particularly among uninsured patients,” who were previously shown to have increased length of stay, cost, and emergency department recidivism, says lead author Gregory Misky, MD, a hospitalist at the University of Colorado Denver.
The pathway—which aimed to standardize all VTE care from hospital presentation to post-discharge follow-up—contained multiple components, including education for staff, enhanced communication processes, written order sets, and a series of formal and informal meetings held with community providers, such as the clinics where these patients get their follow-up primary care. Dr. Misky collaborated with his university’s anticoagulation clinic to help identify primary-care physicians and clinics and arrange follow-up outpatient appointments much sooner than the patients could have obtained by themselves.
The prospective study compared 135 VTE patients presenting to the emergency department or admitted to a medicine service and receiving care under the pathway, compared with 234 VTE patients prior to its introduction. Length of stay dropped to 2.5 days from 4.2, and for uninsured patients it dropped even more, to 2.2 days from 5.5.
Dr. Misky says the data gathered since the San Diego conference “continue to show good results in resource utilization, particularly for the uninsured, with emergency department visits and readmissions slashed.” Readmissions have dropped to 5.2% from 9.8%—and to 3.5% from 11.6% for uninsured VTE patients. He suggests that the clinical pathway approach likely has implications for other diseases as well.
- Enguidanos S, Vesper E, Lorenz K. 30-day readmissions among seriously ill older adults. J Palliat Med. 2012;15(12):1356-1361.
- The Advisory Board Company. Mastering the cardiovascular care continuum: strategies for bridging divides among providers and across time. The Advisory Board Company website. Available at: http://www.advisory.com/Research/Cardiovascular-Roundtable/Studies/2012/Mastering-the-Cardiovascular-Care-Continuum. Accessed Jan. 8, 2013.
- Misky G, Carlson T, Klem P, et al. Development and implementation of a clinical care pathway for acute VTE reduces hospital utilization and cost at an urban tertiary care center [abstract]. J Hosp Med. 2012;7 Suppl 2:S66-S67.
- Versel N. Health IT holds key to better care integration. Information Week website. Available at: http://www.informationweek.com/healthcare/interoperability/health-it-holds-key-to-better-care-integ/240012443. Accessed Jan. 8, 2013.
- Office of Inspector General. Early Assessment Finds That CMS Faces Obstacles in Overseeing the Medicare EHR Incentive Program. Office of Inspector General website. Available at: https://oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oei-05-11-00250.asp. Accessed Jan. 8, 2013.