Courtesy Emily Dagostino, Rush Oak Park Hospital

Rush Oak Park Hospital is part of a national cohort of hospitals working to improve patient transitions from the hospital to other facilities or home through Project BOOST (Better Outcomes by Optimizing Safe Transitions).

Sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois in collaboration with the Society of Hospital Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and the Illinois Hospital Association, the program is designed to improve the discharge process and reduce readmissions, which cost Medicare more than $17 billion a year.

“Project BOOST is an important opportunity to improve the quality of care transitions for patients discharging from the hospital setting while reducing unnecessary health care spending,” said Julie Yacopino, assistant director, Case Management, and Project BOOST team lead. “As a member of the BOOST cohort, Rush Oak Park Hospital utilizes resources and tools that improve the transitional plan of care and prevent errors that can occur when patients transition from hospitals to other settings. All of this translates to safer, higher-quality patient care.”

Mark V. Williams, MD, FHM, principal investigator, Project BOOST, joined representatives from the Illinois Hospital Association and physician mentors from Northwestern Memorial Hospital on the Telemetry unit on Tuesday, January 29 to observe how Rush Oak Park Hospital is implementing Project BOOST. The visiting mentors noted that Rush Oak Park Hospital’s team is strong. For the next year and a half, Yacopino and Director of Quality Management Sue Larson will lead the BOOST initiative, with Juan Cobo, MD, an internal and geriatric medicine physician in Rush Oak Park Physicians’ Group, providing support as the physician champion. Clinical nurse leaders on the Telemetry unit will tap into the Project BOOST tool kit to roll out the program for heart failure patients. Ultimately, the goal is to extend the program to all hospital inpatients.

Nearly 20 percent of Medicare patients are readmitted within 30 days of discharge and most of these readmissions are preventable, according to Project BOOST. Communication is a core issue: Many patients don’t understand their diagnoses and treatment plans; are discharged before all test results have come in or before necessary follow-up tests have been ordered; or can’t access their discharge summaries when they visit their primary care physicians after discharge. Project BOOST aims to resolve issues related to discharge plans, focusing on improving the flow of information between the hospital and outpatient settings; identifying high-risk patients; and better preparing patients and their families for discharge. In addition to checklists, it encourages the use of teach-back, wherein patients repeat instructions and explanations back to their nurse or discharge planner to ensure that they have understood them.

More than 100 hospitals have participated in Project BOOST since its September 2008 launch. Throughout the year, Yacopino and Larson will stay in touch with Dr. Williams and Chithra Perumalswami, MD, Rush Oak Park Hospital’s designated mentor, to obtain their ongoing feedback, input and mentoring. Dr. Williams and his team plan to make a final visit to the hospital near the program’s completion.

Rush Oak Park Hospital is a member of the Rush System for Health, located near the corner of Harlem Avenue and Madison Street in Oak Park, Ill. It is a 176-bed acute care hospital. To learn more about any of Rush Oak Park Hospital’s programs or services, to find a physician, or for information on upcoming lectures and health screenings, visit the Rush Oak Park Hospital Web site at or call (708) 660-INFO (4636).

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