A Simple but Powerful Innovation Wins the Drucker Prize

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September 13, 2013; PRWeb


The Drucker Institute gave its annual prize for Nonprofit Innovation to the Boston Medical Center this year. The nonprofit Boston Medical Center is located in one of the lowest income communities in Boston and is well known as a high-quality trauma center. It is also a teaching hospital, and over the years it has played host to a number of innovative approaches to patient well-being. In this case, it received the $100,000 prize, beating out 864 other applicants, for its attention to discharge procedures.

In some ways, the innovation is so simple it’s heartbreaking. Project Re-Engineered Discharge (Project RED) is a decade old this year. It is based on the hospital’s identification of 11 mutually reinforcing components that define a high-quality hospital discharge. And although it does include a technology-based aspect in the form of a virtual patient avatar/advocate, what the patient receives is simply an individualized, spiral-bound color booklet, which is highly accessible to discharged patients with limited health literacy.

The press release describes it as follows:

“The booklet lays out just what people need to know in order to prepare them for the days between their discharge and their first outpatient visit—a period, studies show, when poor communication and inadequate information often trigger new medical problems, re-admissions to the hospital, increased costs and gaps in health and safety. Specifically, the booklet lists medications, provides a color-coded calendar of upcoming appointments and tests, contains an illustrated description of the discharge diagnosis, and explains what to do if a problem arises.”

Those provided with the booklet have experienced a 30% lower rate of hospital utilization within 30 days of discharge and costs were nearly 34% lower. The measure has thus far been replicated in 300 other hospitals.

There are times when the times themselves promote the spread of a particular innovation. This measure, for instance, is likely to be of high interest right now as the ACA has placed a high premium on the prevention of unnecessary re-hospitalizations.—Ruth McCambridge

  • Dowell

    A similar booklet might also help discharged prisoners.