Amedisys Launches Heart Program To Lower Readmissions, Empower Patients

One of the biggest publicly traded home health care providers is expanding a pilot program targeting heart failure patients company-wide after finding initial success in a pilot program. The announcement comes at the start of American Heart Month.

Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based Amedisys Inc. (Nasdaq: AMED) is rolling out the Amedisys Heart Failure program company wide this month following a small pilot in Alabama, the company revealed in a press release Wednesday.

The goal of the program is to empower and educate patients with heart issues and their families and to help them live a higher quality of life, Shannon Abbott, vice president of clinical programs at Amedisys, told Home Health Care News. Abbott also heads up the Heart Failure Program for the company and oversees the pilot program.

The pilot, which is still underway, involves more than 300 heart failure patients at 14 Amedisys care centers across Alabama.

“We choose Alabama because we were looking for an area where we had a large number of opportunities in terms of patient population,” Abbott told HHCN. “Alabama is where we saw a lot of heart failure issues.”

There will be minor costs for Amedisys, but over time, the program aims to lower overall costs through fewer readmissions by educating patients and family members to recognize opportunities for earlier care interventions. The program comes with no additional cost burdens for patients.

“To ensure patients and their families are learning the material, we are using an in-depth guide that uses teach-back methodology,” Abbott said. “We use a red, yellow and green placard to identify when the patient is getting into trouble, and then we are teaching the patients and caregivers what actions can be taken based on the color they’re in.”

Amedisys clinicians received training on patient empowerment, the specifics of heart failure and how to teach patients self-care strategies instead of relying on only provider care strategies.

The outcomes from the pilot, as well as future outcomes from the program, will be evaluated on three metrics: hospital readmission rates, functional status of the patient and shortness of breath. The three metrics will be evaluated against the benchmark data from Strategic Healthcare Programs (SHP), a real-time analytics program.

So far, the pilot has revealed some promising preliminary results, according to Abbott.

“Even in the pilot, we are already seeing amazing responses from patients and their families,” said Abbott. “We see patients and families becoming more engaged with their conditions and taking more control not only of just their conditions, but in their general health care decisions. It’s exciting to watch that happen and be a part of that.”

Written by Alana Stramowski

Photo Credit: Pete, CC BY 2.0

Alana Stramowski

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