Brown President attends EMHL ’16 CCP on Racial and Ethnic Disparities

Brown University President Christina Paxson recently attended Dr. Natalie Achong’s Executive Master in Healthcare Leadership (EMHL) final presentation of her extensive research to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in postpartum care and readmissions in Connecticut hospitals. Dr. Achong’s research culminated in a first of its kind conference, The 2015 Connecticut State Medical Society Health Disparities Summit on Hospital Readmissions, and appears in the most recent issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology, the official publication of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.  Dr. Achong also recently presented her findings at the 27th Annual National Forum on Quality Improvement in Health Care.

Dr. Achong used her EMHL Critical Challenge Project (CCP) to develop this research and presented it as part of a week-long series of CCPs by all EMHL 2016 graduates.

Dr. Achong’s presentation was followed by a lively debate with her cohort colleagues and EMHL faculty, including a question by President Paxson regarding the applicability of programs from other states focused on similar issues.  In her response, Dr. Achong emphasized the importance of care in context and the need for highly customized solutions based on specific community needs.

The session’s senior-level participants also included Dr. Achong’s CCP Advisor, Dr. Richard Besdine.  A leader in his field, Dr. Besdine serves as Professor of Medicine, Director of the Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research at Brown University and Chief of Geriatrics for Lifespan.

When asked how the EMHL program supported her work, Dr. Achong responded, “I would have done this research regardless of EMHL, but work-shopping my research through the multi-disciplinary curriculum and with my outstanding colleagues from across the healthcare landscape maximized the exposure and impact that my work achieved.”

Naming a few of the ways that EMHL enhanced her work, Dr. Achong credited:

  • The EMHL marketing course for developing the communications skills to attract over 350 attendees at her Health Disparities Summit and secure the American Medical Association (AMA) President Robert Wah, MD and National Medical Association (NMA) President Lawrence Sanders, MD as keynote speakers.
  • The finance course for teaching her the language to engage and get buy-in from critical stakeholders such as insurance and hospital administrators.
  • Brown University and EMHL faculty for connections that led to coverage in Obstetrics & Gynecology and a speaking position at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement 27th Annual Conference.

The CCP course is an independent capstone project that spans the duration of the EMHL experience.  When applying to the EMHL program, each student identifies a critical challenge related to healthcare, drawing from his/her own experience and vision for the future of the healthcare industry.  This critical challenge becomes the focus of his/her independent study and the CCP coursework throughout the 16-month program.

Dr. Natalie Achong CCP Abstract:  Avoidable hospital readmissions are increasingly costly to health systems, payers and patients. 30-day readmissions have emerged as a focal point to reduce costs and improve the quality of healthcare. This attention has been accompanied by the growing body of evidence and research of the persistent racial and ethnic disparities across the US health care continuum. Results of a groundbreaking 2015 study of over 167,000 term, uncomplicated deliveries from 2005-13, revealed postpartum readmission rates were significantly higher among black (14.6/1,000; CI 13.0-16.5) and Hispanic (10.7/1,000; CI 7.0-8.1) relative to white women (7.5/1,000, CI 7.0-8.1). Controlling for socioeconomic status, comorbidities, and payer did not substantially reduce differences in the readmission odds.

This CCP’s goal is to strategically address the postpartum readmissions disparities at Connecticut’s 29 hospitals. As the principal investigator, this CCP applied organizationally relevant, best practices and disruptive innovation to plan and successfully execute the first of its kind 2015 Connecticut State Medical Society Health Disparities Summit on Hospital Readmissions. This CME/MOC physician-led stakeholder summit exceeded all sponsor and participant expectations.  From a population health and systems perspective, this novel project is a major step toward improving stakeholder engagement and understanding and ultimately addressing the significant disparities in Connecticut readmission rates and other differences in health outcomes.

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