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National recognition for Minnesota's work to reduce hospital readmissions

RARE campaign earns National Quality Forum, The Joint Commission Patient Safety and Quality Award

ST. PAUL, Minn., Jan. 23, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Minnesota hospitals and their community partners have received national recognition for their work to reduce avoidable readmissions. The Reducing Avoidable Readmissions Effectively (RARE) Campaign, a broad-based coalition of hospitals and care providers working to improve discharge planning, medication management and primary care post-hospital visits, was named a recipient of the 2013 John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Award for Innovation in Patient Safety and Quality, one of the most prestigious quality and safety awards in the country.


"The achievements of this year's Eisenberg Award recipients are exemplary," says Mark R. Chassin, MD, FACP, MPP, MPH, president and CEO, The Joint Commission. "Their tireless dedication to making their organizations and the healthcare industry safer for patients, saving lives, and decreasing costs deserves to be applauded."

Minnesota hospitals and community partners have prevented 6,211 avoidable hospital readmissions between Jan. 1, 2011 and June 30, 2013. It is estimated that the RARE Campaign has helped patients spend 24,844 more nights sleeping comfortably in their own beds instead of the hospital and has reduced inpatient costs by an estimated $55 million.

The RARE Campaign involves 82 hospitals and 100 community partners across Minnesota and is one of the largest coordinated improvement initiatives undertaken by the Minnesota health care community. Participating hospitals focused their work on five key areas that, if not managed well, are known to be main contributors to avoidable hospital readmissions:

  1. Comprehensive discharge planning
  2. Medication management
  3. Patient and family engagement
  4. Transition care support
  5. Transition communications

For example, CentraCare Health – Paynesville has implemented a medication therapy management program that integrates clinical pharmacy services into the care and management of high-risk, high-cost, patients with multiple conditions. The program involves seeing the patient in clinic, including ordering necessary blood tests, reviewing all medications, performing a condition-specific physical exam and modifying the patient's medication regimen if necessary, and has resulted in a 50 percent improvement for these patients.

Essentia Health-St. Joseph's Medical Center in Brainerd has taken a community-based approach to prevent readmissions. The hospital collaborated with providers across the continuum of care, including clinics, home health/hospice, long-term care, assisted living, local public health, patients and other community partners to have purposeful discussions about care transitions. An interdisciplinary team identified potential barriers to a smooth transition for patients, including missing or incomplete documentation and implemented process changes to improve communication between settings of care.

In Minneapolis, Allina Health redesigned its discharge instructions for the 11 hospitals across the Allina system. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, Allina created easy-to-read sections that include patient-friendly information about the hospital stay, self-care, food, medicine, exercise and signs and symptoms of whom to call and when. In addition, Allina began scheduling follow-up appointments prior to discharge and shifted the discharge instruction oversight responsibility from nursing staff to physicians. Discharging physicians also perform medication reconciliation at every discharge. In response to the change, the hospitals have seen an increase in the number of patients completing their follow-up appointments and have improved the rate of medication reconciliation at discharge from 70 percent to 97 percent.

The John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Awards were established in 2002 by The Joint Commission and the National Quality Forum (NQF) in memory of John M. Eisenberg, MD, MBA. Eisenberg was an administrator of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, a member of the founding Board of Directors of the NQF and an impassioned advocate for healthcare quality improvement. These annual awards recognize individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to improving patient safety and health care quality. Each year, only three to four individuals or organizations earn the Eisenberg Award, making this a unique and prestigious accomplishment for the RARE Campaign.

The RARE Campaign is led by three operating partners: the Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement, the Minnesota Hospital Association and Stratis Health. Supporting partners include the Minnesota Medical Association, MN Community Measurement and VHA Upper Midwest.

Representatives of the three operating partners will receive the award at NQF's annual conference in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 13.

To learn more about the RARE campaign, visit

Stratis Health is an independent, nonprofit organization that leads collaboration and innovation in health care quality and safety, and serves as a trusted expert in facilitating improvement for people and communities.

The Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement is a non-profit health care improvement organization that unites diverse stakeholders to bring innovation and urgency to improve health, the patient experience and the cost of care. It is comprised of 50 medical group and hospital members representing 8,000 physicians in Minnesota.

The Minnesota Hospital Association helps 144 hospitals and health systems provide quality care for their patients and communities.


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