Hennepin Healthcare, Hennepin Health partnership wins Minnesota Hospital Association Quality Award

Hennepin Health and Hennepin Healthcare’s Proactive Identification of Substance Use Disorder (SUD) to Reduce Readmissions is the recipient of a Quality and Safety Improvement award from the Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA). The award was presented at MHA’s annual meeting in Brainerd on Thursday, September 21, when the association recognized the outstanding work individuals and teams at hospitals and health systems are doing to improve the health of Minnesotans.

This award-winning collaboration between Hennepin Healthcare and Hennepin Health – a county-based safety-net Accountable Health Model (AHM) that serves individuals who are eligible for Medicaid and MinnesotaCare — achieved success by connecting patients with SUD to support services. Acute and chronic SUD complications are the leading readmission cause within the AHM’s population at Hennepin Healthcare, but this partnership resulted in a significant decrease in 30-day hospital readmissions — even though overall admissions for SUD are on the rise. In fact, SUD emergency department (ED) visit rates have decreased by a third for Hennepin Health members engaged in this program since this work began in June of 2021.

The process begins when Hennepin Health patients with SUD are proactively identified in the Hennepin Healthcare inpatient and emergency department settings. Then a Hennepin Health certified peer support specialist (CPSS) is deployed to build rapport, promote continuity, and connect patients to outpatient social services and treatment resources.

“This program is unique as services are provided without hospital setting restriction,” explains Nathaniel Scott, MD, MHA, Chief of Clinic Operations and Quality at Hennepin Healthcare. “Patients are approached for inclusion even in the absence of a SUD-specific admission reason, and utilization outcomes improved despite few patients electing SUD treatment.”

From 7/1/2021 through 6/30/2023, 980 patient encounters were screened for eligibility and 438 agreed to intervention: 69 patients were visited by a CPPS in the ED and 31 were seen in the hospital while under observation. Three hundred thirty-eight encounters occurred inpatient; this cohort populated the readmission denominator.

Hennepin Health Chief Executive Officer Anne Kanyusik Yoakum said: “The work of our outstanding CPSS team members like Albert helps Hennepin Health to proactively identify our members living with SUD and to effectively partner with them to connect to needed resources and peer support. Our CPSS team has deep expertise at finding members who may be overlooked by traditional screening techniques used by fragmented healthcare systems. This innovative collaboration with Hennepin Healthcare bridges gaps so we can better serve our Accountable Health Model members — and our communities.”

Mha | Awards CeremonyCPSS Albert Garcia with Hennepin Health relates to patients from his own experience with SUD and being homeless.

“I’ve been there, and I feel how they’re feeling,” he said. “I was abused as a child, threatened, and bullied. Started drinking when I was seven to dull the pain. Later, as an adult, was homeless for five years, on drugs, and hearing voices. Using drugs was all I knew to take care of the feelings and emotions that I had — and it was the only way I could smile or laugh.”

Today Garcia meets with patients at Hennepin Healthcare to walk alongside them on their journey to recovery, offering resources and connections to help.

He accepted the MHA award on behalf of Hennepin Health on Thursday, September 21.

“This work means everything to me. It means to never leave anybody behind or alone. I love what I do.”