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UCLA heart failure program reduces readmission rate

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When a patient is discharged from the hospital, it is extremely disheartening to be told shortly thereafter that readmission is necessary—oh no, not again! That unfortunate experience is less likely to occur at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center than at many other facilities in the nation. On December 11, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center announced that it had been selected as one of 11 US hospitals to participate in the American College of Cardiology (ACC) Patient Navigator Program; the program is the first of its kind in cardiology designed to support hospitals in providing personalized services to heart disease patients, which reduces the chance of being readmitted shortly after discharge.

“We are pleased to be selected as one of the first hospitals to participate in this new program,” noted Dr. Gregg Fonarow, Eliot Corday Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and Science and director of the Ahmanson-UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center. He added, “Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center is award-winning for its performance in adhering to key national guidelines in care of heart attack and heart failure patients and we look forward to implementing this new patient-centered program.”

UCLA notes that in the United States, almost 20% of patients hospitalized with heart attack and 25% of patients hospitalized with heart failure are readmitted within 30 days of discharge; the readmission is often due to conditions that do not appear to be related to the original diagnosis. Readmissions can be related to problems such as comorbid illnesses, fragility on discharge, lack of understanding of discharge instructions, and the inability to carry out discharge instructions.

The Patient Navigator Program American College of Cardiology was created to support a team of caregivers at selected hospitals to help patients overcome challenges during their hospital stay and in the weeks following discharge when they are most vulnerable. The hospitals that were selected were provided funding to establish a program that supports a culture of patient-centered care that can be implemented in other hospitals in the future. The main program elements of the navigator program at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center will include enhancing care and the transition of care from hospital to home, early physician follow-up and monitoring, and close disease management.

“The ACC Patient Navigator Program will serve as a test for innovative, patient-centered solutions to address issues that impact patient health and patient readmissions,” explained American College of Cardiology President Dr. John G. Harold. He added, “Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center is a pioneer in a new approach to heart disease treatment and care that puts the emphasis on a team approach to meeting patients’ ongoing needs and helping patients make a seamless transition from the hospital to the home.”

By December 2015, the American College of Cardiology expects to enroll at least 35 hospitals in the Patient Navigator Program. AstraZeneca is the founding sponsor of the ACC Patient Navigator Program.

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