TOWSON, Md. and COLUMBIA, Md., Sept. 29, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- A new partnership using community health workers (CHWs) to help chronically ill patients access care following hospitalization has cut readmission rates at the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center (UMSJMC) by nearly two-thirds, according to new data from UMSJMC and Maxim Healthcare Services, a national provider of home health, medical staffing and population health and wellness services.
The program focuses on patients who are at high risk for hospital readmission due to a high degree of medical, psychological, functional and socioeconomic complexity. In its first 16 months, the program reduced readmissions among participants by more than 60 percent.
Mohan Suntha, MD, MBA, former UMSJMC president and CEO and current president and CEO of the University of Maryland Medical Center, was instrumental in initiating this partnership. "Readmissions aren't the problem – they are a symptom," said Dr. Suntha. "The real problem occurs when patients with complex medical issues and unmanaged psychological or social challenges don't receive the support they need to maintain their health."
Dr. Thomas B. Smyth, current president and CEO of UMSJMC, agrees and sees great value in continuing and expanding the program. "This partnership has allowed us to step beyond the role hospitals have traditionally played in a patient's recovery to create a measurable positive impact on the health of the population we serve," said Dr. Smyth.
Patients enrolled in the program are assessed in the hospital by a nurse practitioner; they are then reassessed by a registered nurse at their home following discharge; and finally, each patient is also assigned a CHW who is uniquely trained to mitigate barriers to care and act as a liaison to existing healthcare services. Through this program, CHWs focus on a wide range of care management issues such as transportation, housing, employment and the coordination of medical services.
Based on the program's success, UMSJMC is expanding its partnership with Maxim to engage with more patients struggling with chronic medical, socioeconomic and behavioral complexity. The partners are also establishing a new CHW role that will be dedicated to providing community-based support to patients with complex behavioral health challenges. The program expansion is part of a $1.1 million transformation grant that was awarded to UMSJMC by the Maryland Health Services Cost Review Commission.
"We know it's often the simple things – missed medication, poor nutrition choices or lack of reliable transportation – that can lead to big healthcare costs," said Maxim Healthcare Services CEO Bill Butz. "As a company that cares for some of the nation's most medically fragile patients at home and also employs over 53,000 caregivers across the country, Maxim is focused on advancing the community health worker profession so that we can help patients better navigate these barriers, and also help our partners improve the quality and affordability of healthcare."
According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the all-cause readmission rate across all patients was about 14 per 100 patients. This varied significantly across payers, with the highest readmission rates seen in Medicare patients (17.3 per 100) and the lowest among commercially insured patients (8.6 per 100). Those numbers are even higher for patients with certain chronic conditions. For example, 24.5 percent of Medicare heart failure patients are readmitted within 30 days – negatively impacting clinical outcomes and creating unnecessary costs and penalties for hospitals.
About University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center
UM St. Joseph Medical Center, which was founded in 1864 by the Sisters of St. Francis, is a 232-bed nonprofit, regional medical center in Towson, Md., and a member of the 12-hospital University of Maryland Medical System. For more information, visit www.stjosephtowson.com.
About Maxim Healthcare Services
Maxim Healthcare Services, Inc. provides home healthcare, medical staffing, travel nursing, and population health and wellness services across the United States. Founded in 1988, Maxim is focused on delivering quality patient care and a commitment to employee development with an emphasis on customer service. Today, Maxim is an established partner in the healthcare industry and is constantly evolving to address the needs of our patients, caregivers, and clients. Our focus on quality patient care and compliance is the foundation for our success. Learn more about Maxim Healthcare Services, or get more information about available Maxim Healthcare positions.
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SOURCE Maxim Healthcare Services