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Preventing Unnecessary Transfers

April 4, 2016 - The capabilities to care for complex patients at Lawrence General have long been underestimated and underutilized. For a long time, the expectation was that complicated or critical patients would simply be transferred to an academic center in Boston for care. In fact, for many years we have averaged 150 Emergency Center transfers a month. Not anymore. Our skilled local providers and staff can care for most patients we see here, and more and more, those patients are staying right here, close to home.

Our Prevent Transfer Team has been working hard to be sure that, when a critical patient needs a bed here in Lawrence and that patient is appropriate to stay, there’s a bed available. For the last two months, and for the first time in almost a decade, we have dipped below 100 transfers per month to Boston, going all the way down to 79 transfers in February. 

This is a positive development for patients and families that don’t want to travel and experience the hassles of going to Boston. The care here at Lawrence General is as good and often times better and more personal than what they might receive at a larger center. 

The ongoing work to keep care local has other benefits for the hospital. As our Care Integration teams work with community based providers to improve the stability of patients with chronic illnesses and reduce unnecessary hospitalization, it opens beds for those sicker patients who truly need to be in hospital care. Those sicker patients, with more complex conditions, drive up what’s called the “Case Mix Index” or severity of illness score of Lawrence General Hospital, increasing our overall reimbursement from insurers, including Medicare and Medicaid—our two largest payers. 

It’s really health care reform in action, improving community based care effectiveness for those who don’t need to be in the hospital, lowering the volume of hospitalized patients, but increasing the acuity of those who are in the hospital, and paying more appropriate rates for the care of those sicker patients. Our ability to keep critical care local whenever possible is giving Lawrence General the means to sustain high quality care here in our region. Thanks to the great work of all those who are keeping our patients well cared for, here close to home.

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