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TMCNet:  SCAN Medical Director Emphasizes Team Approach to Reducing Hospital Readmissions

[January 04, 2013]

SCAN Medical Director Emphasizes Team Approach to Reducing Hospital Readmissions

LONG BEACH, Calif. --(Business Wire)--

Dan Osterweil, MD, medical director at SCAN Health Plan, told an audience of healthcare professionals recently that proven care paths and a team approach can help reduce the rate of hospital readmissions among residents of nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities.

"Frontline physicians, administrators and nurses can all work together to reduce avoidable hospital readmissions," said Dr. Osterweil. "This takes teamwork, training and systems that are designed to promote early intervention and timely communication."

Dr. Osterweil made his comments at the 2012 Annual Quality Symposium, "Road Map to Quality in Skilled Nursing Facilities." The event was co-sponsored by the California Association of Long Term Care Medicine, the California Association of Health Facilities and the Health Services Advisory Group.

In his presentation Dr. Osterweil emphasized the INTERACT II (Interventions to Reduce Acute Care Transfers) program that allows nurses to identify important changes in residents' behavior. INTERACT II improves early identification, assessment, documentation and communication about changes in the status of residents in skilled nursing facilities. In addition, he highlighted the most common conditions leading to readmissions nd proposed strategies for the management of these conditions in the nursing home setting.

As a follow-up to the symposium, Dr. Osterweil is working with the event sponsors in offering coaching assistance in INTERACT II methods to nursing homes. Approximately 100 teams consisting of nurses, physicians and administrators are currently participating. The coaching is being conducted through a series of webinars, with smaller work groups meeting online monthly with coaches to problem solve and share information about what is working in their facilities and what needs to be improved.

"Hospitalization can be traumatic for nursing home residents as well as costly for hospitals, nursing homes and the patients themselves," said Dr. Osterweil. "Healthcare professionals have a moral obligation to come together and learn ways to reduce the rate of preventable readmissions for this vulnerable population."

Dr. Osterweil is immediate past president of the California Association of Long Term Care Medicine. In addition to providing continuing medical education credits for those attending the symposium, SCAN has made an ongoing commitment to preventing hospital readmissions. SCAN adopted the "Care Transitions" model of care in 2005 to enhance its suite of case management programs for members at high risk of hospitalization. This program links nurses and social workers with SCAN members while they are still in the hospital as well as at specified intervals following discharge to answer questions and help with medications, explain what to do if symptoms worsen, and help patients reach personal health goals.

SCAN Health Plan has been focusing on the unique needs of seniors for more than 35 years. As the nation's third largest not-for-profit MAPD plan, SCAN currently has nearly 130,000 members in California and Arizona. Further information may be obtained at scanhealthplan.com or on Facebook (News - Alert) at facebook.com/scanhealthplan.

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