A program that aims to curb the number of Medicare patients returning to hospitals within 30 days of initial treatment is expanding from its pilot launch in Baton Rouge to Lafayette, Covington and Hammond.

According to an Associated Press article published on The Times-Picayune’s website, eQHealth Solutions is centered around a full-time “health coach” who works with patients on providing health information after being discharged from the hospital, which should lower the chances of patient relapses for illnesses such as heart attacks, congestive heart failure, pneumonia and pulmonary disease.

Five Baton Rouge hospitals were able to participate in the pilot program thanks to a $2.1 million grant from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Now, three years later, Lafayette will get its share of a $1.26 million grant to implement the program in the Hub City, Hammond and Covington:

The program targets patients who have suffered heart attacks and those diagnosed with congestive heart failure, pneumonia and pulmonary disease. The aim is to reduce the number of patients who return to the hospital within 30 days of discharge by helping them identify early signs of problems and keep up with medicines they are prescribed, the frequency and stop dates.

Prior to the three-year Baton Rouge area project, the 30-day readmission rate per 1,000 Medicare patients stood at 18.8 percent. The project reduced the rate to 13.6 percent for those patients who received coaching from eQHealth.

[Director of eQHealth Care Coordination Services Laurie] Robinson said the Lafayette, Hammond and Covington areas were chosen for the EQ project expansion because of the concentration of Medicare patients age 65 and above, the number of hospital discharges among the population and readmissions, as well as interest in implementing the “health coach” system.

The participating hospitals must decide whether they want to use in-house personnel or hire someone new to be their point person, she said. The coaching job should be full-time because of the time required for in-house and follow-up contacts with patients who opt to participate, she said.

Read more here.

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