FMC implements BOOST project to ease elderly patients’ transitions out of the hospital

March 15, 2012

Flagstaff Medical Center (FMC) is implementing Project BOOST – Better Outcomes for Older Adults Through Safe Transitions – to improve transitions from hospital to home. Project BOOST, a program initiated by the Society of Hospital Medicine (SHM), aims to decrease re-hospitalizations and improve patient satisfaction during the discharge process. FMC is among more than 100 hospitals nationwide that have participated in Project BOOST.

Unplanned readmissions to the hospital are a critical issue for hospitals and the communities they serve. According to a 2009 study in the New England Journal of Medicine, approximately 20 percent of hospitalized Medicare patients are readmitted within 30 days, and 75 percent of these readmissions may be preventable.

“The time following discharge from the hospital is a risky time for many elderly patients,” said Lisa Brugh, R.N., director of FMC’s Care Coordination department. “This program will help ensure best practices are being followed in an effort to reduce complications once a patient leaves the hospital to go home or to another healthcare facility. Because errors in care are common shortly following discharge, particularly for elderly patients with complicated care needs, a program like BOOST is helpful in identifying potential problems and creating solutions, thus further safeguarding patients.”

BOOST enhances communication between hospitalists (physicians who only care for patients in the hospital setting), primary care providers, patients and family members, and other healthcare facilities. The project assesses each patient’s individual risk for re-hospitalization and focuses on patient and family education. Additionally, a comprehensive discharge plan is developed that addresses the need for patient placement in a facility, palliative or homecare services, and behavioral health needs. Within 72 hours of discharge from the hospital, a nurse will contact the family to ensure all arrangements have been made and the family and patient understand physician orders, medications, etc. 

"The discharge process is like a jigsaw puzzle. It requires many different disciplines to cooperate, each bringing an important piece of the whole picture into focus,” said Heather Crittenden, M.D., FMC hospitalist and Care Coordination physician advisor. “FMC has made a commitment to support the improvement of this multidisciplinary process for the benefit of patients and their families.”  

Project BOOST has become one of the most highly regarded programs in reducing readmissions, an increasingly important topic in healthcare. Project BOOST was created and refined by hospital quality improvement experts and SHM staff in conjunction with a national advisory board of leaders in hospital medicine, care transitions, and regulatory agencies.

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