TALLAHASSEE -- A five-year collaborative effort among Florida hospitals spurred a 15 percent drop in the number of patient readmissions, healthcare leaders announced Tuesday.
The initiative, spearheaded by the Florida Hospital Association, touted other successes, including a 14.5 percent reduction in surgical complications, a 41 percent decline in bloodstream infections and millions of dollars saved at the 160 participating hospitals.
We are proud of the improvements weve achieved, proud of the fact that our hospitals are coming together across the state to ensure that quality patient care is central to all that we do, said Steven D. Sonenreich, CEO of Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach and chair of the Florida Hospital Association Board of Trustees.
The association launched its quality campaign in 2008, when Florida hospitals were shouldering criticism for poor outcomes and high costs.
As a state, we did not rank well on some national [benchmarks], Sonenreich said. We knew that we could do better.
Among the associations top priorities: reducing hospital readmissions, or the number of patients who return to the hospital after receiving care.
More than 100 hospitals took part in the Florida Collaborative on Reducing Hospital Readmissions. The initiative made Florida the first state to publicly report its readmissions by hospital, FHA officials said.
By digging deep into the data and sharing best practices, participating hospitals were able to prevent more than 1,500 patient readmissions, according to the report. Whats more, their collective costs dropped by about $25 million.
Despite the progress, 30 hospitals in Miami-Dade and Broward were identified by the federal government last week for having excessively high readmission rates. Those hospitals will receive lowered Medicare reimbursement payments for one year beginning Oct. 1 as part of the governments efforts to reward healthcare providers for quality and efficiency.
Sonenreich noted that eight Miami-Dade hospitals and a handful of follow-up care providers were participating in a local collaborative to further cut readmission rates.
Hospitals used to be places that were silos, he said. There needs to be the collaboration.
Beyond readmission rates, the association sought to decrease the number of surgical complications by creating a Florida Surgical Care Initiative. It involved 67 hospitals and the insurance giant Florida Blue.
The effort saved 89 lives, prevented 165 surgical complications, and cut costs by $6.7 million, according to the report.
Another 35 hospitals participated in a quality assurance program that yielded a 41 percent drop in bloodstream infections. And 10 were part of an initiative that reduced urinary tract infections by 37 percent.
Healthcare officials said they achieved the results by sharing techniques. Doctors in Naples, for example, told hospital administrators elsewhere in Florida about new technology that monitors for blood infection, said Allen Weiss, the CEO of NCH Healthcare System in Naples.
If you start to look at issues that you can change surgical infections, hospital readmissions, bloodstream infections than you change the whole culture of the institution, Weiss said.
The FHA aims to further reduce readmissions by 20 percent over the next three years, and cut other indicators of patient harm by at least 40 percent.
Said Mount Sinais Sonenreich: This is only the beginning.
Kathleen McGrory can be reached at kmcgrory@MiamiHerald.com.