American College of Cardiology Helps Hospitals, Patients Avoid Readmissions

Navigator program brings team approach to meeting patient needs, reducing rehospitalization

WASHINGTON (Dec. 3, 2013) — With increased penalties in effect for hospitals with excessive readmissions for heart attack and heart failure, the American College of Cardiology is launching a program that applies a team approach to keeping patients at home and healthy after discharge.

The ACC created the Patient Navigator Program to support a team of caregivers at selected hospitals to help patients overcome challenges during their hospital stay and in the weeks following discharge when they are at most risk for readmission. Hospitals have been given funding to establish a program that supports a culture of patient-centered care that can potentially be implemented in other hospitals in the future. AstraZeneca is the founding sponsor of the ACC Patient Navigator Program.

“The ACC Patient Navigator Program will serve as a test for innovative, patient-centered solutions to address issues that impact patient health and patient readmissions,” said ACC President John G. Harold, MD, MACC. “These hospitals will serve as pioneers in a new approach to heart disease treatment and care that puts emphasis on meeting patients’ ongoing needs and helping patients make a seamless transition from the hospital to the home.”

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services increased penalties beginning Oct. 1 for hospitals with excessive readmission rates for heart attack, heart failure and three other non-cardiac conditions within 30 days of discharge. Hospitals could lose up to 2 percent of related Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, which is double the prior maximum penalty of 1 percent of Medicare payments. Beginning in 2014, the penalty will increase again to a maximum of 3 percent.

Nearly one in five patients hospitalized with heart attack and one in four patients hospitalized with heart failure are readmitted within 30 days of discharge, often for conditions seemingly unrelated to the original diagnosis. Readmissions can be related to issues like stresses while in the hospital, fragility on discharge, lack of understanding of discharge instructions and inability to carry out discharge instructions.

Out of 132 hospitals initially surveyed about the program, 120 expressed an interest in participating in the first phase of the ACC Patient Navigator Program. Eleven hospitals were chosen for a 2013 program launch, with an additional 24 hospitals slated to join the program by the end of 2015.

Here are the first 11 participating hospitals, which were chosen because of their commitment to quality demonstrated by participation in the National Cardiovascular Data Registry and Hospital to Home program:

· Advocate Sherman Hospital, Elgin, Ill.
· Christiana Care Health Services, Wilmington, Del.
· Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia
· Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital, Indianapolis
· MedStar Washington Hospital Center, Washington
· Providence St. Vincent Medical Center, Portland, Ore.
· Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles
· St. Mary’s Hospital, Waterbury, Conn.
· Trident Health, Charleston, S.C.
· Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute, Nashville, Tenn.
· WakeMed Health and Hospital, Raleigh, N.C.

"AstraZeneca is proud to support the ACC Patient Navigator Program to make a meaningful impact on the quality of care patients receive as they transition from hospital to home following a heart attack," said Gregory F. Keenan, MD, Vice President and U.S. Head Medical Officer, AstraZeneca. “We congratulate the first hospitals that will participate in this innovative patient program.”

The mission of the American College of Cardiology is to transform cardiovascular care and improve heart health. The College is a 43,000-member medical society comprised of physicians, surgeons, nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists and practice managers. The College is a leader in the formulation of health policy, standards and guidelines. The ACC provides professional education, operates national registries to measure and improve quality of care, disseminates cardiovascular research, and bestows credentials upon cardiovascular specialists who meet stringent qualifications. For more information, visit cardiosource.org/ACC.

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