The Commonwealth Fund Connection

The Commonwealth Fund Connection is as a roundup of recent Fund publications, charts, multimedia, and other timely content. 

Hospital Readmissions Are Frequent and Costly

As the country prepares for federal health reform, policymakers and health care providers are seeking efficiencies. A Commonwealth-Fund supported study in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that one of five Medicare beneficiaries discharged from the hospital are readmitted within 30 days, and half of patients admitted for reasons other than surgery are readmitted without having seen a doctor in follow-up. All together, unplanned rehospitalizations cost Medicare $17.4 billion in 2004. The researchers recommend strategies for reducing readmissions such as planned transitions, timely follow-up, and aggressive chronic disease management.

A Commonwealth Fund webinar, held April 2, focused on approaches to reducing readmissions. Along with study author Stephen Jencks, M.D., M.P.H., panelists included Paul M. Schyve, M.D., Senior Vice President, The Joint Commission; Carol Wagner, R.N., M.B.A., Vice President, Patient Safety, Washington State Hospital Association; and Anne Mutti, M.P.A., Senior Analyst, Medicare Payment Advisory Commission. Commonwealth Fund Vice President Anne-Marie Audet, M.D., moderated. A recording of the webinar is available, as are the presentations.

New Performance Data Added to WhyNotTheBest.org
The most recent quarterly data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have been added to WhyNotTheBest.org, including performance reports on the Hospital Quality Alliance measures, which gauge how often hospitals delivered recommended care processes for the following conditions: heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, and surgical care improvement (23 measures in all). In addition, updated performance reports have been added for the 10 measures from the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS).

New Podcast on Health IT in Hospitals
In this episode of New Directions in Health Care: The Commonwealth Fund Podcast, producer Sandy Hausman visits a V.A. hospital in Virginia to see how electronic record keeping has improved quality on almost every measure of care. She also talks with the author of a Commonwealth Fund–supported study that provided crucial evidence linking health information technology, such as automated order entry, notes, and decision-support, with lower mortality rates as well as lower costs. Subscribe to New Directions in Health Care to receive updates as new episodes are posted.
Lessons from the ABCD Screening Academy
As participants in the Assuring Better Child Health and Development (ABCD) Screening Academy—a Fund-supported initiative administered by the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP)—21 states and territories have worked to improve developmental screening in well-child care and make state-level policy to support these improvements. A new series of issue briefs, posted on the NASHP Web Site, report on their activity.

State Policy Improvements That Support Effective Identification of Children at Risk for Developmental Delay describes how states have pursued policies to expand benefits and eligibility, increase reimbursement, and improve the delivery of developmental services for children.

State Strategies to Support Practice Changes That Improve the Identification of Children at Risk for or with Developmental Delays explains how state agencies, in partnership with the private sector, have implemented developmental screening in child health care practices and promoted the statewide spread of those activities by providing training and resources to pediatric primary care providers and office personnel.

Measurement to Support Effective Identification of Children at Risk for Developmental Delays: Findings from the ABCD Screening Academy reviews how states have measured changes in child health care practices' rates of developmental screening before and after participation in the Screening Academy.