Maryland hospitals launch effort to inform consumers on changing landscape

Maryland hospitals launch a campaign to educate consumers on changing health care landscape.

Hospitals in Maryland are changing the way they deliver care, focusing more on coordinating services and preventing complications. And Tuesday, they plan to launch a campaign to inform the public about it.

Called A Breath of Fresh Care, the campaign’s goal is to get patients to engage in their care by directing them to hospital wellness and chronic disease management initiatives, as well as information on interacting with providers or even the process of registering a complaint.

To that end, the Maryland Hospital Association has set up a website called breathoffreshcare.org with links to individual hospital websites. Education forums also are planned, beginning in the fall.

“Health care in Maryland, is evolving by leaps and bounds; gone are the days when consumers sat on the sidelines, detached from their care,” said Carmela Coyle, association president and CEO. “Health care in the 21st century is about patients; hospitals and other providers are looking to their patients and communities like never before as partners in health. Simply put, to enable Marylanders to lead long, healthy lives, we need their help.”

The effort was necessary, according to association officials and consumer groups, because the state recently began participating in an experiment with federal regulators that changes the way hospitals are paid as a way to emphasize more efficient and better coordinated care.

The hospitals have budgets that tightly control their spending so they work to keep patients from unnecessary emergency visits and hospitalizations or readmissions. In exchange for controlling costs they earn higher reimbursements from federal health programs.

The association plans to unveil the public education program Tuesday, and has already garnered the support of the civil rights group NAACP, the seniors’ advocacy organization AARP and the Young Invincibles, which works to educate young people about health care. The campaign is also supported by the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative, a consumer advocacy group.

“Most Marylanders don’t realize what a significant change there has been in how health care is delivered,” said Vincent DeMarco, president of the citizens’ health initiative. “Hospitals in Maryland more than anywhere else are putting resources into population health and working with the community in ways they didn’t before.”

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