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Follow-Up Appointments Reduce Cardiac Readmissions

Researchers say Affordable Care Act’s “See You in 7” initiative is helpful

The American College of Cardiology’s “See You in 7”  initiative encourages health care professionals to ensure that heart failure and heart attack patients have follow-up appointments scheduled with their doctor within seven days of hospital discharge. In a recent study published in JACC: Heart Failure, researchers examined seven-day follow-up and 30-day readmission rates for patients the year before the initiative compared with those after the start of the program and found that it helped reduce heart-related readmissions. 

The study, reported by HealthLeaders Media, focused on 10 Michigan hospitals that were participating in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s “See You in 7” initiative, which calls on health care professionals to make sure that all heart failure and heart attack patients have a follow-up appointment scheduled with their doctor (or a cardiac rehabilitation referral) within seven days of their hospital discharge. Hospitals participating in the initiative considered the following steps:

  • Identify heart failure patients prior to discharge
  • Schedule and document a follow-up visit with a cardiology or primary care doctor within seven days of discharge
  • Provide patients with documentation of scheduled follow-up
  • Identify and address barriers to keeping appointments
  • Ensure that patients arrive at their scheduled follow-up appointments
  • Make a discharge summary available to follow-up health care providers

Thirty-day readmission rates decreased 2.6% and per-payment Medicare costs for inpatient days and 30-days post-discharge dropped by $182 at hospitals using the program. These reductions occurred despite the fact that seven-day follow-up rates remained fairly low (31% to 34% at hospitals using the program, compared with 30% to 32% at non-participating hospitals).

"Our study clearly shows there are challenges in coordinating early follow-up care, since increases in seven-day post-discharge follow up were modest. However, despite this, hospitals in the program stepped up to address deficiencies in post-hospital care and reduce 30-day readmissions," said senior author of the study Scott Hummel, MD, MS.

Source: HealthLeaders Media, October 6, 2015

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