Transition Expansion


Thousands of Michigan residents will have a better chance of avoiding readmission to the hospital thanks to a groundbreaking new collaboration between three of the state’s healthcare leaders.

Based on SHM’s Project BOOST (Better Outcomes for Older Adults through Safe Transitions) model, the collaborative program will be managed by the University of Michigan in collaboration with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. The Michigan Blues provide and administer health benefits to 4.7 million Michigan residents.

Project BOOST helps hospitals reduce readmission rates by providing them with proven resources and expert mentoring to optimize the discharge transition process, enhance patient and family education practices, and improve the flow of information between inpatient and outpatient providers. Project BOOST was developed through a grant from the John A. Hartford Foundation. Earlier in the year, the program recruited 15 Michigan sites to participate. Training begins in May.

Each improvement team will be assigned a mentor to coach them through the process of planning, implementing, and evaluating Project BOOST at their site. Program participants will receive face-to-face training, monthly coaching sessions with their mentors, and a comprehensive toolkit to implement Project BOOST. Sites also participate in an online peer learning and collaboration network.

“This kind of innovative, targeted program benefits both the patient and the healthcare provider by establishing better communication between all parties,” says Scott Flanders, MD, FHM, associate professor and director of hospital medicine at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and SHM president.

To Flanders, it’s no coincidence that hospitalists are taking the lead in improving hospital discharges. “Readmissions are a pervasive but preventable problem,” he says. “Hospitalists are uniquely positioned to provide leadership within the hospital, to promote positive, system-based changes that improve patient satisfaction, and promote collaboration between hospitalists and primary-care physicians.”

In addition to being preventable, readmissions are costly, draining the resources, time, and energy of the patient, PCPs, and hospitals. Research in the April 2009 New England Journal of Medicine indicates that 20% of hospitalized patients are readmitted to the hospital within a month of their discharge.1 Nationally, readmissions cost Medicare $17.4 billion each year.1

The New Face of HospitalMedicine.org

SHM has revamped its Web site, which serves as HM’s premier online destination and the initial stop for hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. The landing page at hospital medicine.org, which has long served as a portal for SHM member services and products, and as a clearinghouse for information on QI and practice management topics, has been reorganized to better serve members and other visitors.

“Thousands of members and others interested in hospital medicine visit our Web site every month,” says Todd Von Deak, SHM’s Vice President of Operations & General Manager. “We’ve given it a facelift, so it’s easier to navigate. Now, members can quickly find the information they need, including exclusive content from the leading publications in hospital medicine.”

Hospitalmedicine.org now features “rotating” content in the main section of the landing page. Below it, the most-requested information has been divided into four categories: Education and Meetings; Practice Management; Quality Solutions; and Membership.

The changes are one of many technological innovations SHM uses to communicate with members. SHM has its own Twitter feed, @SHMLive, to stay at the forefront of breaking news. Earlier this year, SHM and Epocrates introduced “Hospitalist Connection,” a new application for handheld devices that delivers exclusive HM commentary directly to a hospitalist’s smartphone or mobile device.—BS

Collaborative Partnerships

Prior to the program’s launch in Michigan, SHM recruited and mentored Project BOOST sites independently. However, like many productive relationships in a hospital, Project BOOST in Michigan depends on collaboration between experts.

“Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is confident that this project, like our other Value Partnership programs that focus on robust, statewide, data-driven quality-improvement (QI) partnerships, will have a positive impact on thousands of Michigan lives,” says David Share, MD, MPH, BCBS Michigan’s senior associate medical director of Healthcare Quality. “We look forward to helping hospitals, physicians, and patients work together to assure smooth transitions between inpatient and outpatient care, and to reduce readmissions and improve the patient experience.”

For University of Michigan hospitalist Christopher Kim, MD, MBA, FHM, Project BOOST is a chance to work with a diverse set of groups. “We are grateful for the opportunity to work with not just Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, but also with the other physician organizations across our state to implement and share best-practice ideas in transitions of care,” says Kim, director of the statewide collaborative program on transitions of care.

Results and Reports

Having launched six pilot sites just two years ago, adding 24 additional sites in 2009, Project BOOST is still a relatively young QI program, which makes reliable quantitative data about its effectiveness tough to come by. The expansion into Michigan gives SHM and others the prospect of programwide measurement of how Project BOOST affects discharge and reduces readmissions.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to improve patient safety, reduce readmissions, and study the impact of Project BOOST interventions through patient-level data,” says Mark Williams, MD, FHM, Journal of Hospital Medicine editor, principal investigator for Project BOOST, and former SHM president. “We’re thrilled to be working with the state’s healthcare leaders to implement this critical program.”

Nonetheless, in the absence of comprehensive data, the early reports from Project BOOST sites are promising. At Piedmont Hospital in the Atlanta area, the rate of readmission among patients under the age of 70 participating in BOOST is 8.5%, compared with 25.5% among nonparticipants. The readmission rate among BOOST participants at Piedmont over the age of 70 was 22%, compared with 26% of nonparticipants. When SSM St. Mary’s Medical Center in St. Louis implemented BOOST at its 33-bed hospitalist unit, 30-day readmissions dropped to 7% from 12% within three months.

Patient satisfaction rates also increased markedly, to 68% from 52%. And in 2009, the University of Pennsylvania Health System awarded its annual Operational Quality and Safety Award to the Project BOOST implementation team at the hospital.

BOOST’s Reach Expands

Project BOOST leaders are planning an aggressive expansion in the near future. In addition to the potential for new program sites, SHM has made materials available to hospitalists through the Project BOOST Resource Room at SHM’s newly redesigned Web site (see “The New Face of HospitalMedicine.org,” p. 12), www.hospitalmedicine.org/boost.

In addition to free resources, new BOOST materials are for sale through SHM’s online store. The Project BOOST Implementation Guide—available electronically for free through the resource room—is now available for sale as a hard copy. The online store also features a new Project BOOST instructional DVD for hospitalists, “Using Teach Back to Improve Communication with Patients.” TH

Brendon Shank is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia.


  1. Rehospitalizations among patients in the Medicare fee-for-service program. N Engl J Med. 2009;360(14): 1418-1428.

Chapter Updates

The Historic Main Street Trolley in Memphis, Tenn. The Historic Main Street Trolley in Memphis, Tenn.

The Historic Main Street Trolley in Memphis, Tenn.


The Memphis chapter held its quarterly meeting Feb. 4 at Erling Jensen in Memphis, Tenn. Dr. William Edmonson of the North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo, Miss., discussed “Updates on COPD.” Boehringer Engelheim sponsored the dinner meeting, which was attended by hospitalists and physicians in the area as well as hospital nurses and administration.

Milwaukee/Southeast Wisconsin

The Milwaukee/Southeast Wisconsin chapter’s Feb. 27 meeting in the Columbia Hospital Auditorium brought together hospitalists, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, and others from the Milwaukee area. Attendees were able to obtain CME credit on topics including acute coronary syndrome, hyponatremia, and sepsis. The meeting highlight was a presentation from Dr. Alpesh Amin, interim chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of California at Irvine. Dr. Amin discussed how to start up a local SHM chapter. Sponsorship from CME University helped make the chapter’s first HM symposium a success.

Nebraska Area

Lincoln HM group Bryan LGH hosted the Nebraska Area chapter quarterly meeting Feb. 23. Dr. Tamer Mahrous gave an overview of coding issues for hospitalists. A copy of the presentation will be sent to all of the chapter members.

The chapter elected officers to serve terms through 2012. They include: Dr. Eric Rice, president; Russ Cowles, vice president; Alissa Clough, secretary; and Jay Snow, officer at large.

Several additional items were discussed, including topics for upcoming meetings, how the chapter can best take advantage of opportunities at HM10, the possibility of launching a chapter newsletter, and organizational issues.

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