Kevin Downey, Colorado Hospital Association
(720) 330-6019
kevin.downey@cha.com

 

Colorado Hospital Association and UnitedHealthcare Initiative Shows Double‐Digit Decrease in Readmission Rates, Nearly $3 Million in Health Care Savings in First Year

Date Aug. 1, 2013

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, COLO. (Aug. 1, 2013) — The Colorado Hospital Association (CHA) and
UnitedHealthcare initiative to reduce readmissions at 19 Colorado hospitals has shown significant
results in its first year of implementation, with double‐digit readmissions reductions resulting in
nearly $3 million in health care cost savings.
 
The work is part of the Reducing Hospital Readmissions & Safe Transitions Collaborative, a project
managed by the Colorado Hospital Association and funded by a $1.1 million grant from
UnitedHealthcare.
 
Results from the 19 Colorado hospitals participating in the collaborative show that their 30‐day
“same cause” readmission rate (readmissions to a hospital within 30 days due to the same
diagnosis) for target populations, such as patients with heart failure, dropped from 9.8 percent to
5.18 percent one year later—a reduction of nearly half. For “all cause” hospital readmissions
(patients readmitted to the hospital for any reason, not just their original diagnosis) within 30 days
of discharge among target groups, the rate fell from 14.94 percent to 8.45 percent over 12
months—a reduction of 43 percent.
 
CHA’s analysis found the initiative’s better coordination and improved quality of care resulted in
312 patients avoiding readmissions at these 19 hospitals during the same time period. Using
federal estimates of one hospital readmission costing $9,600 on average, the Colorado readmission
initiative would translate into about $2.9 million in reduced health care expenditures.
 
“These results show the extraordinary effort Colorado hospitals are making toward improving
patient care quality—even after the patient leaves the hospital,” said Nancy Griffith, R.N., CHA’s
director of quality improvement and patient safety. “The data clearly illustrate Colorado hospitals
are making tangible progress in preventing readmissions, and it’s saving both payers and patients
money in the process.”
 
Participating hospitals have received funding, education, guidance and technical support from CHA
since the end of 2011. The readmissions reduction strategies used by hospitals are based on the 11
action steps of Project RED (Re‐Engineered Discharge), a Boston University School of Medicine
program that has been proven effective and highlighted in leading medical journals. Action steps
include ensuring follow‐up tests and care provider appointments that are scheduled prior to
patient discharge, confirming medication plans, and follow‐up phone calls with patients, as well as
other tactics.
 
“The goal of this collaboration is to help reduce avoidable readmissions and improve care
coordination for patients after they leave the hospital. One year into the project we are seeing great
results,” said William Mandell, D.O., market medical director, UnitedHealthcare of Colorado. “The
Colorado Hospital Association is leading this important effort to solve a problem that will increase
the quality of health care and lower costs.”
 
UnitedHealthcare granted $1.1 million to CHA for the two‐year collaborative in 2011. Data
collection and participating hospital support will continue through December 2013, with final data
analysis occurring in 2014. The hospital association hopes to be able to continue its readmissions
reduction work with member facilities and expand such efforts to even more Colorado hospitals.

About the Colorado Hospital Association
The Colorado Hospital Association (CHA) represents 100 member hospitals and health systems throughout Colorado. CHA partners with its members to work towards health reform and performance improvement, and provides advocacy and representation at the state and federal level. Colorado hospitals and health systems are committed to providing coverage and access to safe, high-quality and affordable health care. In addition, Colorado hospitals have a tremendous impact on the state’s economic stability and growth, contributing to nearly every community across the state with 72,000 employees statewide.

About UnitedHealthcare
UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the
health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted
relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs
for individuals, employers and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with
780,000 physicians and other health care professionals and 5,900 hospitals and other care facilities
nationwide. UnitedHealthcare serves more than 40 million people in health benefits and is one of
the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well‐being
company.