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Session Details

October 25, 2018, 2:00 PM ET: Lowering Readmissions, Reducing Disparities

  • Andrea Tull, PhD, Director of Reporting and Analytics, Edward P. Lawrence Center for Quality & Safety, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH)   
  • Aswita Tan-McGrory, MBA, MSPH, Deputy Director, The Disparities Solutions Center

Initiatives to reduce avoidable readmissions are the norm in US health systems today, particularly because Medicare fines hospitals with higher-than-expected rates. Health care leaders also recognize that when patients are readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of discharge, it usually indicates that processes are not what they should be.

In addition, health care organizations have come to appreciate that non-clinical issues, often referred to as social determinants of health, have a great bearing on rehospitalizations — everything from poor housing to unstable income to food insecurity. Collecting data to better assess the impact and better address these determinants to prevent readmissions is ongoing. We’ll gain some insights into one major health system’s learning curve on the October 25 WIHI: Lowering Readmissions, Reducing Disparities. 

When Andrea Tull and her team at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston analyzed higher-than-desired readmissions rates, concerns about equity and hypotheses that patients who are non-white and/or speak limited English likely accounted for the higher rates didn’t survive research scrutiny. But that doesn’t mean there are no disparities. On the WIHI, Tull will describe initial study results and a different approach her team is taking to dig deeper into the data. In the meantime, MGH is testing the value of assigned readmissions risk scores derived from patient interviews. These scores populate the electronic health record and alert staff to an individual’s degree of vulnerability for readmission upon discharge. 

For Aswita Tan-McGrory, efforts at MGH and elsewhere to reduce readmissions offer health care a tremendous opportunity to close gaps and improve equity across the health care continuum. Factoring in the role that social determinants of health play in readmissions has the potential to unleash new and necessary innovations and interventions. But first, she says, health care systems need to get more comfortable screening for determinants, and patients need to trust why they’re being asked to share sensitive information about their lives.

What data are you gathering that’s proving helpful to your organization’s readmission reduction efforts? What do you do when the research is inconclusive? We hope you’ll join the October 25 WIHI to share your learning.

Please click here to create a calendar invite for the 2 PM ET broadcast.