Spectrum Health Selected for National Project to Reduce Rehospitalizations

Spectrum Health has been selected to participate in a three-state project that will seek to reduce the number of people who must be readmitted to the hospital for clinical reasons related to the initial hospitalization.

Ten independent Michigan hospitals and select hospitals within five Michigan health care systems have been chosen to participate. Several Spectrum Health hospitals – Blodgett, Butterworth, Helen DeVos Children’s, Reed City, and United – were selected for the project.

The project targets unplanned, related “rehospitalizations,” which are readmissions that are not expected or scheduled, but whose reason is clinically related to the initial admission. The pilot project, named State Action on Avoidable Rehospitalizations (STAAR), seeks to reduce the number of patients being hospitalized again within 30 days of discharge by 30 percent while increasing patient and family satisfaction with transitions and coordination of care.

“Spectrum Health is honored to participate in this national initiative,” said John J. Byrnes, MD, senior vice president, system quality for Spectrum Health. “The STAAR project directly aligns with our systemwide efforts in the areas of patient safety and quality. Over the past two years, we have been focused on reducing readmission rates in acute myocardial infarction, abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, hysterectomy, back surgery, pediatric chemotherapy, and percutaneous coronary intervention or coronary angioplasty.”

Hospitals in Michigan, Washington and Massachusetts are participating in the STAAR project. Michigan’s efforts are being coordinated by the Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA) Keystone Center for Patient Safety & Quality and MPRO (Michigan’s Quality Improvement Organization). Technical assistance is being provided by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), whose efforts are supported by a grant from The Commonwealth Fund.

Specifically, the STAAR project aims to reduce avoidable rehospitalizations by improving patient care transitions (the process of moving a patient from the hospital setting to home care or another health care setting) through enhanced patient communication and timely follow-ups after hospital discharge.

“Michigan hospitals realize that the recovery process has only just begun when patients leave our facilities and return to their lives,” said MHA President Spencer Johnson. “How patients transition from hospital care to their home or long-term-care facilities is key to the effectiveness of their treatment. By identifying and working to reduce avoidable rehospitalizations, Michigan hospitals will benefit not only our patients and communities, but other states will be able to learn from this initiative.”

The criteria used to select the participating hospitals was based on regional representation; representation by rural/urban, teaching/nonteaching; critical access hospitals; ethnic diversity in hospital service area; representation by independent and system hospitals; willingness to recruit post-acute care partners (long-term care, home health, etc.); and willingness and capacity to collect data.

The pilot project hospitals have pledged to commit significant staff time, resources and leadership at all levels of their organization to reduce avoidable rehospitalizations. Each hospital will focus on achieving:

  • enhanced assessment of post-discharge needs
  • enhanced teaching and learning for patients by the acute-care team
  • enhanced communication at discharge between the hospital and the provider assuming care for the patient
  • timely follow-up after hospital discharge

In addition, hospitals will form transition teams who will develop processes to reduce hospital readmissions. Transition teams will be comprised of participating hospitals and representatives from other health care settings, as well as community groups, patients and caregivers.

The MHA Keystone Center for Patient Safety & Quality, based in Lansing, Michigan, brings patient safety experts and hospitals together to work in collaborative programs to improve patient safety and health care quality and to reduce medical errors. For more information, visit

MPRO, based in Farmington Hills, Michigan, is a recognized independent leader in health care quality improvement, patient safety initiatives, clinical assessment and medical review. MPRO’s mission is improving quality, safety and efficiency of health care across the continuum. For more information, visit

Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system in West Michigan that offers a full continuum of care through the Spectrum Health Hospital Group, a collection of seven hospitals and more than 140 service sites; the Spectrum Health Medical Group, a multispecialty team of nearly 100 providers; and Priority Health, a health plan with nearly 500,000 members. Spectrum Health’s 14,000 employees, 1,500 medical staff members and 2,000 volunteers are committed to delivering the highest quality care to those in medical need.  The organization provided $111.1 million in community benefit during its 2008 fiscal year. As a system, Spectrum Health has earned more than 100 awards during the past 10 years.