Health Leaders Join Forces to Tackle National Problem of Hospital Readmissions

    • January 31, 2013

Washington, D.C.—The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) today announced a month-long effort to focus attention on the national problem of people returning to the hospital soon after they are discharged and to shine a spotlight on how hospitals and communities are working to limit avoidable return trips to the hospital.

NBC Chief Medical Editor Nancy Snyderman, MD will join RWJF and other partners for a capstone event and webcast Feb. 13 at the National Press Club to celebrate promising practices of health care innovators working to improve quality and reduce unnecessary readmissions.

This is the second phase of the Care About Your Care effort, which was launched in 2011 to call attention to the spotty quality of the U.S. health care system and what providers and patients alike can do to improve care.

This year’s efforts are endorsed by more than two dozen leading public and private health care organizations, ranging from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to organizations representing physicians, nurses, hospitals, caregivers, and chronic disease patients. 

Almost one in five elderly patients released from a hospital is back within 30 days; more than a third are back within 90 days. Many of these return visits could be avoided, and CMS began penalizing hospitals last year for excessive numbers of readmissions.

“American hospitals suffer from a chronic malady—the revolving door syndrome,” said RWJF President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD. “Care About Your Care is our effort to put this issue on everyone’s radar. The reasons people end up back in hospitals vary widely, but we need to face this problem together as an entire health care community, not in silos.”

The month of activities designed to focus attention on the issue includes:

  • National Video Contest. Patients, caregivers, nurses, care coordinators, and others submitted 120 videos highlighting innovative patient-centered approaches to reduce readmissions across the health care spectrum. Five winners will be announced and videos will be available on the RWJF website.
  • Live Event with National Experts and Health Care Leaders. On Feb. 13 at the National Press Club, Lavizzo-Mourey and Snyderman, a head and neck surgeon, will host a panel discussion with front-line medical staff on the readmissions challenge. They will hear from experts from leading hospitals and government agencies on how they are addressing the readmission problem and working to improve care transitions.

The event will feature, among others, Eric Coleman, MD, MPH, professor of medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine; Mary Naylor, PhD, FAAN, RN, Marian S. Ware Professor in Gerontology and director of the New Courtland Center for Transitions and Health at the University of Pennsylvania; and Jonathan Blum, director of the Center for Medicare Management at CMS.

The event will be simulcast live on Feb. 13 at 12:30 p.m. EST. Among the observers will be representatives from Aligning Forces for Quality, RWJF’s signature program to lift the quality of care in 16 communities and provide models for national reform.

  • New Data on Hospital Readmissions. Lavizzo-Mourey will present findings from a new Dartmouth Atlas report on hospital readmissions, as well as the results of a series of 30 interviews conducted with patients and providers in Dallas, New York City, and metropolitan Washington, D.C. that shed light on why so many patients end up back in the hospital and what hospitals, doctors, and nurses are doing to improve follow-up care.
  • Lessons From the Field. A culmination of the Care About Your Care effort will be the addition of dozens of resources to the RWJF online library called “Promising Practices from the Field,” which includes a repository of innovations from RWJF-sponsored hospital quality improvement collaboratives.
  • Consumer Tips. A tip sheet on how to prepare to leave the hospital and other facts will be available for consumers and caregivers.
  • Continuing Education. Qualified individuals who watch the event live will receive continuing education (CE) credit. The event will also be available as an online continuing education module to viewers who wish to receive CE credit for up to one year following the event.

To learn more about the Care About Your Care effort, visit



About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, measurable, and timely change. For 40 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. Follow the Foundation on Twitter or Facebook.

Media Contacts

Melissa Blair

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (609) 627-5937