For the past year, I have had the pleasure of working side-by-side with the chief nursing officer, Cheryl Bailey, and a team of dedicated caregivers at Cullman Regional Medical Center (CRMC) to reengineer the discharge process using our Good to Go patient-centric communication solution. Since implementing the tool, CRMC decreased readmissions by 15 percent within a 6-month period and increased HCAHPS scores by 63 percent for domain questions related to discharge communication.
With performance driving reimbursement by CMS, stats like these are paying off for the hospital, and industry leaders are taking notice. Starting at the end of December 2012, CRMC has been overwhelmed by accolades for improving patient engagement and safety during and after a hospital stay.
First, Modern Healthcare honored CRMC with the Spirit of Excellence Award for Patient Safety followed by Health Data Management announcing the hospitals receipt of the 2013 Nursing I.T. Innovation Award. On February 13, 2013, CRMC was selected by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) as a winner in the “Transitions to Better Care” video contest, which is part of the Care About Your Care initiative. More than 100 videos were submitted from across the country and only five were selected. It was a tremendous privilege to be invited by Cullman to share this special moment alongside Cheryl as well as the CEO, Jim Weidner, and nursing director, Paula Burkes.
It was also a rewarding opportunity to hear and see thought-leaders in the industry. After the video award ceremony, the RWJF hosted a roundtable on the topic of readmissions. Moderated by Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC News chief medical editor, the panel featured four healthcare experts, including Eric Coleman, MD, with the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.
The roundtable sparked discussion on readmission improvement ideas, including additional grant money and CMS payment incentives for physician outreach. Although CRMC was the only winning hospital to showcase technology, panelists agreed there is a role for technology in improving outcomes. Dr. Coleman said, “Hospitals need to follow the lead from our friends in Alabama and utilize technology to engage patients and families.” Patient engagement was the first of three “must haves” Dr. Coleman declared were needed to improve readmissions. The other two necessities were community involvement and communication. Dr. Coleman said, “Hospitals cannot reduce readmissions alone.” He also explained that patient knowledge about their health is power.
Caregivers at CRMC agree. I have heard Cheryl say time and time again that patient education is the key to better outcomes. So by, arming nurses and clinicians with the Good to Go solution, CRMC is extending personalized care and communication beyond the hospitals walls to patients and families as well as other care providers. The Good to Go solution has been described by patients as a lifeline after hospital discharge. They no longer feel they are forgotten or left to manage their care alone. They feel empowered and secure.
This is a story I never get tired of hearing, and I plan to listen again on February 28 at 1 p.m. EST as Cheryl is set to be the guest speaker for a webinar: Increasing Patient Satisfaction, Reducing Readmissions with Better Communication. Cheryl will also be presenting the CRMC story at the HIMSS13 Nursing I.T. Symposium on March 2 and 3 as well as AONE on March 22. I encourage anyone interested in learning about innovative ways to improve healthcare experience and outcomes to participate in the upcoming webinar or attend one of the presentations featuring Cheryl and CRMC.