Southbridge, MA – When the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission convened its October 16 conference in Boxborough to showcase healthcare delivery transformations achieved through its Community Hospital Acceleration, Revitalization, & Transformation (CHART) investment program, Harrington HealthCare’s CHART Program Coordinator Maria Waterhouse and her team were present to explain how they achieved a 34% reduction in the number of ED revisits for patients with behavioral health comorbidities over a 22-month period.
Over the last two years, 27 community hospitals participating in 25 CHART programs have used $60 million in CHART funding to create innovative, data-informed programs to improve care for high-risk populations in their communities. Through this program, caregiving teams at non-CHART hospitals learned how their CHART-funded peers achieved success.
Explaining how Harrington’s CHART team achieved such successful results, Waterhouse said “the rapport established between the navigator and the patient is a key dynamic to the program’s success. We have demonstrated that it is possible to identify and engage high-risk patients with complex needs in the emergency room setting, to effectively follow up with them and provide support, navigation and problem-solving.”
Harrington began implementation of its Medical Home Model in 2014, supported by a $3.5 million grant awarded by the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission (HPC). Targeted at increasing access to behavioral health services across all of southern Worcester County by removing barriers to care, Waterhouse says “the program’s goal is to break the cycle of repeat patient visits in the Emergency Room by promoting continuity of care and establishing stability in the community.”
The core team, composed of 8 full-time staff, has achieved two years of success, having integrated support services into the care plan of hundreds of individuals in the community. “This initiative,” says Greg Mirhej, Executive Director of Behavioral Health, “has allowed us to reduce the burden on acute care resources, and in turn develop model programs for those with behavioral health needs that are more effective, less costly, and offer a greater scope of care.”
“The process begins when a social worker is alerted during the patient’s medical evaluation,” according to Waterhouse. “They complete a clinical assessment, create an individualized care plan and assign a navigator to work with the patient. The plan often includes home visits and addresses issues like access to food or shelter, outpatient programs, recovery services, doctor’s appointments, long-term community supports, employment assistance and transportation.”
“Our partnership with community hospitals is a critical part of the Health Policy Commission’s efforts to achieve the Commonwealth’s cost containment and quality improvement goals,” says David Seltz, Executive Director of the Health Policy Commission. “CHART hospitals were issued a challenge: Propose initiatives that will put you on a path of transformation, while meeting critical health care needs of your community. As we saw from Harrington Healthcare and our other presenters, they have met that challenge. Harrington’s results show that their program is working to achieve its goals and positively impacting its patients. We look forward to continuing to partner with Harrington HealthCare and the communities it serves to build a more coordinated and affordable health care system.”
The CHART program is a four-year community hospital public-private partnership aimed at enhancing delivery of efficient, effective care. The Health Policy Commission’s partnership with community hospitals is a critical part of the agency’s efforts to achieve the Commonwealth’s cost containment and quality improvement goals.