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Cutting Hospitalizations Rates: December 21, 2013

No one wants to spend time in the hospital, but for some people it’s almost a second home. Two medical conditions, heart failure and COPD, are linked to frequent hospital stays.

“The average duration that somebody with COPD spends in the hospital with an attack is probably 5 days,” says Dr. Sagar Naik, pulmonologist with Lee Memorial Health System. 

Heart failure and COPD alone account for 9% of all medical admissions, and have some of the highest readmission rates, between 25-30% within 30 days. But research suggests outreach programs can impact the numbers.

“The COPD initiative is trying to provide patients with their medicines and education on how to use their medicines, counseling and resources and how to stop smoking, in the hopes that that will help them from relapsing to a COPD attack,” says Dr. Naik.

A recent study showed outpatient management led to a 68% drop in admissions. Lee Memorial Health System offers COPD management along with programs for congestive heart failure.

“We’ve been leveraging skill sets of multiple team members to approach our sickest patients with heart failure and to come up with the very best mechanisms to keep them from having problems and to keep them from being re-admitted over and over again,” says Dr. Richard Chazal, cardiologist with Lee Memorial Health System.

The Telehealth program monitors around 180 patients locally, in their homes. Each day they check in with an electronic system and take a series of quick tests. It’s dropped heart failure re-admission rates to under 10%

“There are so many things that are avoidable, that people are going to the hospital for and that is something as we look at. Their vital signs, we can catch on a front end and get an early intervention,” says Cathy Brady, clinical manager of Telehealth.

Teaching new habits to tackle chronic conditions is paying off in the homestretch.