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Quality & Governance News

Brown Gets $1.1M to Study Medicare Post-Discharge Care Quality

A $1.1 million grant will allow public health researchers to examine post-discharge care quality among Medicare patients.

Post-discharge care quality for Medicare patients

Source: Thinkstock

By Jennifer Bresnick

- The Peterson Center on Healthcare has announced a two-year $1.1 million grant that will allow researchers at Brown University to study how to improve post-discharge care coordination for Medicare beneficiaries.

The new initiative will combine claims analytics with site visits to high-performing health systems in order to better understand how high-needs patients travel through the care continuum and whether or not they are receiving all of the services they need to recover from a hospitalization.

“Many of the most vulnerable patients are simply not getting the care they need after leaving the hospital, and the care they do receive can vary greatly both in terms of quality and cost,” said Jeffrey Selberg, Executive Director of the Peterson Center on Healthcare.

The grant funding continues the Peterson Center’s ongoing efforts to address the high spending devoted to Medicare beneficiaries after they leave the acute inpatient setting.  Rehabilitation or palliative care accounts for more than $60 billion in spending each year, despite the fact that the quality of care received is not uniformly high.

Researchers at the Brown University School of Public Health will take a two-phased approach to breaking down the problem.  The first part of the project will involve a thorough analysis of Medicare claims data which will help to identify which hospital systems are high performers and which produce average results.  Both cost and quality will be taken into account during the analysis.

After stratifying health systems by quality, the researchers will conduct site visits to both the high performing and average performing providers to explore how differences in care delivery may impact outcomes.  The team will also highlight best practices that could be adopted more broadly across the industry to raise the level of quality for complex patients.

The project furthers the Peterson Center’s ongoing work to raise care quality for vulnerable patients. 

At the end of 2016, the Center partnered with four other major foundations, including the John A. Hartford Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The SCAN Foundation, and The Commonwealth Fund, to develop an online playbook filled with strategies for improving care for high-needs patients.

An accompanying survey from The Commonwealth Fund found that more than half of complex patients did not have a care coordinator, and 59 percent worried that their health needs made them a burden for family and friends.

“Our research shows that when people with complex needs require medical help, they encounter a health care system that’s expensive, inefficient, and poorly coordinated. We want to better understand what works for effectively treating these patients, so we can identify gaps, reduce duplication, and accelerate what works,” said David Blumenthal, President of The Commonwealth Fund.

The grant to Brown University will further the industry’s understanding of these best practices for coordinating care and preventing expensive overutilization of the emergency department and inpatient setting, the Center added, while reducing stress and anxiety for patients who do not feel as if their needs are being met.

“By understanding how high-performing providers deliver improved outcomes and lower costs, we can help others do the same for their patients,” said Selberg.

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