Sharp palliative care program gets population health plaudits

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Sharp Transitions, part of Sharp HealthCare in San Diego, is the winner of this year’s $100,000 annual Hearst Health Prize for population health efforts.

The Sharp program provides home-based palliative care for patients with advanced and progressive chronic illness who are not ready for hospice care. Bringing care to the patients and their families improves quality of life for the entire family, according to Sharp.

The Sharp Transitions program has had a significant impact on inpatient hospital mortality; emergency department visits and hospitalizations; and reduced healthcare costs for patients with cancer, COPD, heart failure and dementia. According to Sharp, savings in total healthcare costs were $5,299 per cancer patients, $4,659 for COPD patients, $4,090 for heart failure patients and $3,332 for dementia patients.

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Hearst Health and the Jefferson College of Population Health—part of Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University—announced the winner March 19. Gregory Dorn, MD, president of Hearst Health, says Hearst received 160 applications for the contest, a 42 percent increase over last year.

Hearst Health Prize applications are evaluated by Jefferson College of Population Health faculty and a distinguished panel of judges. The applications are scored on measurable population health improvement; use of evidence-based interventions and best practices to improve the quality of care; promotion of communication, collaboration and engagement; scalability and sustainability; and innovation.

The main driver of the contest is to find an organization that has had a significant effect on population health, Dorn says. “We want to know about those highly relevant emerging clinical approaches that other organizations could implement to significant benefit,” he says. “Everyone knows the words ‘population health,’ but not everyone knows what they really mean.” Dorn says that over time he hopes the award will help to define population health and improve the health of populations. “That’s the mission of the prize.”

In addition to the $100,000 award for the winner, $25,000 awards were given to two competition finalists. Second prize winner Arkansas SAVES, administered by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in partnership with the state’s Medicaid agency, provides real-time, interactive neurological consultation through its telestroke platform in rural and medically underserved areas across the state.

The other second-prize winner, Mental health Outreach for MotherS (MOMS) Partnership: Emerging from the Yale School of Medicine, the Mental health Outreach for MotherS (MOMS) Partnership interrupts inter-generational poverty by improving the mental health of overburdened and under-resourced mothers.

Each year in the U.S., Hearst Health provides guidance that reaches 85 percent of discharged patients, 205 million insured individuals, 77 million home health visits and 3.2 billion dispensed prescriptions.

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