NEA health care coalition to reduce hospital readmissions

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Northeast Arkansas health care providers have formed a community coalition to reduce avoidable hospital readmissions.

Arkansas Care Transitions (ACT) East members said in a meeting Tuesday morning they hope to reduce readmissions by 20 percent in eleven Region 8 counties.

One in five Medicare patients are currently readmitted to care facilities within a month after their discharge from the hospital. More than half of these could have been avoided.

Unnecessary trips back to the hospital mean longer recoveries for Medicare patients and less money for taxpayers.

Many of these hospital returns could have been avoided by better care coordination. This is where the coalition comes in.

"Work together to make the patient experience better in our Region," ACT East chairman James Caldwell said.

The coalition aims to improve communication between patients and care givers and save taxpayer dollars.

"If we could decrease costs for our region, everybody wins. Our industries win, our citizens win and it makes our community more competitive," Caldwell said.

This group of administrators, doctors, insurance providers, even patients will serve 11 Region 8 counties.

"Everybody has been touched by someone who is chronically ill, or at least severely ill, and has experienced that transition between care providers and people and understands how complicated that could be," Caldwell said.

To reduce this headache, the coalition will also strive to educate patients and their families.

"Make them active consumers and active participants in their own health care. An engaged patient, an informed patient is a better patient because they're going to do better. They're going to have less readmissions," Caldwell said.

One of ACT East's other goals is to simplify medical records.

"We hope that we can standardize the discharge forms that we use across our communities so the providers as we get patients understand where the information is and make that process as seamless as possible," Caldwell said.

But he said their top priority is always patient care.

"They just wanna be cared for and they wanna be cared about. And having an understanding what's going on in their care is huge," Caldwell said.

Anyone interested in joining ACT East can attend the next meeting Dec. 10 at 9 a.m. at the Jonesboro Chamber of Commerce. You can also call Caldwell at 972-7272 to get involved before then.

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