Want to Improve Safety? Choose the Right Metrics for Avoidable Readmissions and Complications

March 5th, 2014 / By Kristine Daynes

In January the Minnesota RARE campaign received the prestigious Eisenberg Award for reducing avoidable readmissions. Over an 18-month period, the campaign helped hospitals and community partners prevent more than six thousand hospital readmissions.

Although each hospital faces its own unique challenges in managing readmissions, the RARE campaign demonstrates what a supportive and collaborative effort can achieve. It involves 82 hospitals, 100 community partners, and 3 operating partners, including the Minnesota Hospital Association. Together they are working to reduce readmission rates by 20 percent from the 2009 baseline, as measured by 3M’s classification methodology for identifying potentially preventable readmissions (3M PPRs).

The announcement about Minnesota RARE reminded me of a successful collaborative in New York State. For several years the Hospital Executive Council in Syracuse has produced reports on potentially preventable complications (3M PPCs) based on hospital administrative data. The hospitals use the reports to evaluate specific complications and follow outcomes at a patient level.

One of the participating hospitals, St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center, demonstrated a 33 percent decline in inpatient complications over a four-year period. It could be a coincidence—but not likely—that St. Joseph’s Hospital has received numerous awards for patient satisfaction, including the Consumer Choice #1 Award from the National Research Corp.

Patient safety and satisfaction go hand in hand. St. Joseph’s Hospital performs better than the state of New York and national benchmarks on rates of hospital-acquired infections. And compared to other hospitals in the area, more of its patients give it an overall satisfaction rating of 9 out of 10 and are willing to recommend it.

The two prevention programs—Minnesota and St. Joseph’s Hospital—have more in common than public recognition. They are similar in the way the organizations are analyzing and reporting administrative data to produce actionable information for the providers involved.

In the case of St. Joe’s, hospital staff used the PPC data to review the accuracy of documentation and coding based on the medical record. They identified patients who received interventions and evaluated the effectiveness. The data provided a way to communicate patient outcomes in a way that different health care providers could understand and use it.

Hospitals in both Minnesota and New York are feeling pressure from changing regulations and payment systems to reduce avoidable hospital care. However, the Minnesota RARE campaign and the St. Joe’s project both demonstrate that cost savings or compliance don’t have to be the end goal in order to produce compelling results. In an age of consumerism and marketplace competition, patient safety may be just as rewarding.

Kristine Daynes is a marketing manager at 3M Health Information Systems.