Gears drawn on a chalkboard

Columbus Community Hospital (CCH) in Columbus, Nebraska was recently featured during a national training hosted by the American Hospital Association.

The training, Making the Case – How Team-Based Approaches Improve Value (improving outcomes, enhancing patient experience and lowering costs) was part of the AHA Value Initiative. The Value Initiative provides thought leadership on the issue of affordability to hospital and health system leaders while also serving as a forum for knowledge exchange.

CCH implemented Interdisciplinary Care Teams, which include nurses, case managers, social workers, pharmacists and clinical therapists. These interdisciplinary teams huddle twice per day to discuss the needs and progress of each patient, planning their care after discharge while they are still in the hospital. The team also conducts risk assessments to identify patients more likely to be readmitted and works together to examine a patient’s social needs.

CCH also strengthened its communication and care plans with providers outside of the hospital, including staff at skilled nursing facilities, home health agencies, assisted living facilities, retail pharmacies and medical groups. This includes, for example, collaborating to enhance medication reconciliation, streamline patients’ paperwork and improve handoff phone calls among providers.

​“Really, the work of helping the patient be successful at home occurs outside of the hospital,” said Nicole Blaser, R.N., Director of Quality and Compliance.

Reconciling medications was a key factor in CCH’s success, said Kurt Kapels, M.D., Clinical Director of Hospitalists. CCH conducted a community campaign to increase awareness among the public of the importance of keeping a current list of medications. They distributed bright orange medication pocket lists to community organizations, senior groups and the public. The hospital also implemented a standardized process for communicating with primary care physicians about the medications patients were taking and changes in their prescriptions.

“We know that if we can reduce readmissions, we’re going to reduce the overall cost to our patients,” said Mike Hansen, President and Chief Executive Officer. “That’s something that’s very important.”

As a result of this effort, the CCH team reduced readmissions by 42 percent and saved $819,797 over 18 months.

“It’s a continual learning process,” said Kapels. “We’re always looking to improve what we’ve done so far.

Access the AHA Members in Action Series featuring Columbus Community Hospital to learn more.

The AHA’s Members in Action series highlights how hospitals and health systems are implementing new value-based strategies to improve health care affordability. This includes work to redesign the delivery system, manage risk and new payment models, improve quality and outcomes and implement operational solutions, Visit the AHA Website for more information.