Guest Blog: Marie Dotseth, Executive Director, Minnesota Alliance for Patient Safety (MAPS)

Guest Blog: Marie Dotseth, Executive Director, Minnesota Alliance for Patient Safety (MAPS)

Everyone plays a role in improving health and lowering costs, especially during one of the most potentially harmful legs of the health care journey: Care transitions, when patients move from one care setting to another.

Following extensive market research and testing, MAPS is now piloting “You: Your Own Best  Medicine,” a consumer-facing initiative that equips people with a few simple “to-dos” that enable their health care teams to sidestep care coordination land mines.

Considering that failures in care delivery, care coordination, and over-treatment are major health care cost drivers, resulting in an annual overall cost to payers of over $355 billion, you’d think everyone — from health care and benefits professionals, to CFOs, to consumers — would be demanding improvements in quality and safety.

Employers can get involved in turning the tide by taking advantage of the “You” campaign and making our new materials available to employees. I’ve talked to a number of employers who mistakenly believed that costly readmission and care coordination issues pertain primarily to seniors. But this is a universal issue. While CMS has addressed the topic aggressively on behalf of Medicare patients, people of all ages are affected:

  • A child’s emergency room records often are not sent to the pediatrician
  • Specialists do not always send medical records to primary care doctors (and vice versa)
  • Patients are routinely not contacted about normal test results, and about 1/3 of the time are not contacted about abnormal results
  • Patients with complex care needs and numerous providers are unlikely to initiate care coordination or designate a health care home

Often, the problem in making change happen is that it’s hard to know where to begin, especially for those outside the health care system. As the MAPS board began looking at strategic areas of focus, a few priorities emerged, with safety at transitions of care (when patients move from one care setting to another) rising to the top. Transitions of care are potentially unsafe and costly, but if we can engage consumers around a few things, we can effect essential change.

The “You:  Your Own Best Medicine” campaign is sponsored by the Minnesota Alliance for Patient Safety (MAPS) to empower health care patients to actively manage their own health care.

The MAPS campaign is being conducted with funding from the federal Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation under an expansion of the grant received by the Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA) Leading Edge Advanced Practice Topics (LEAPT).

With the broad-based safety expertise of our member organizations, we explored how we can contribute to:

  • Putting the focus on the patient as an active participant in their care;
  • Simplifying an overly complex process; and
  • Delivering actionable tools and resources to improve care and reduce costs.

We discovered that transitioning from one health care setting to another or to home can be extremely complex. For example, the average hospital discharge packet exceeds 70 pages. The process has become overwhelming when it doesn’t need to be. With the backing of a major federally funded grant received by the Minnesota Hospital Association, we at MAPS began exploring how we could contribute to improving safety at transitions of care.

Not only is MAPS promoting tangible tools like our website and video to consumers, we are working with and encouraging health care providers to promote them to patients during care transitions.

We hope members of the Minnesota Health Action Group will also help us get the word out that there are simple things to move employees from passive care recipient to an active part of the health care team.