The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation sent out its list of 2012 fellows for what some call its “genius grants” yesterday. As I looked through the list of twenty-three new fellows, I was delighted to see the name of Eric Coleman of the University of Colorado School of Medicine. He has done innovative work on improving care transitions and reducing hospital readmissions.

I am proud to say that Coleman has been a guest blogger on GrantWatch Blog!

Eric Coleman is now one of those people who “learned, through a phone call out of the blue from the [MacArthur] Foundation, that they will each receive $500,000 in no-strings-attached support over the next five years,” according to the announcement sent out by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Wow!

The foundation goes on to say that the fellowships “come without stipulations or reporting requirements and offer Fellows unprecedented freedom and opportunity to reflect, create, and explore.”

So, in case you are not familiar with Coleman’s work, he is a professor of medicine and head of the Division of Health Care Policy and Research at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in suburban Denver. He is a board-certified geriatrician.

He is perhaps best known as being the director of the Care Transitions Program, which is “aimed at improving quality and safety during times of care ‘hand-offs,’” according to his bio on the CU medical school’s website. And if that were not enough, he directs the Practice Change Leaders for Aging and Health program; read a September 27 blog post by Amy Berman about this new national program, which is cofunded by the John A. Hartford Foundation and Atlantic Philanthropies. (Berman is a senior program officer at the Hartford Foundation.)

MacArthur has a nice article about Coleman and his work on its “Meet the Fellows” web page. It describes his Care Transitions Intervention, “which equips patients and caregivers with critical knowledge and skills to enable self-care.” The foundation notes that he has “documented the success of this model, in terms of both patient satisfaction and reductions in hospital readmissions, through the Care Transitions Measure.” Consequently, MacArthur states, “his innovative prescriptions have been adopted nationally and internationally, most notably as essential elements in Medicare’s Community-Based Care Transitions Program, a new national initiative.” (I added the link.) Read more from the MacArthur Foundation write-up here.

Of course, Medicare wants to reduce hospital readmissions and, effective October 1, it has started fining hospitals with too many patients readmitted within thirty days, says an Associated Press article on And for now, Medicare is measuring hospitals on just three medical conditions.

Read more about this provision of the Affordable Care Act, which penalizes hospitals for excessive readmissions, in two other articles, both quoting Eric Coleman. One is a Washington Post article dated September 30.  The other article, dated August 13, is from Kaiser Health News, a news organization that is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. (See an October 2 Kaiser Health News article with corrected information from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid [CMS] on amounts of penalties.)   Here is some more technical information from the CMS about the Readmissions Reduction Program.

Coleman holds a master’s degree in public health from the University of California, Berkeley, and a medical degree from the University of California, San Francisco.

I spoke with Coleman this week via e-mail. Since this is GrantWatch Blog, I asked him for a list of what foundations are currently funding his work. He reported that his work is funded by the John A. Hartford Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and the Atlantic Philanthropies. And now, of course, we must say by the MacArthur Foundation!

I heard from another “reliable source” that he is a past Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar and a Veterans Affairs (VA) Scholar and a past Commonwealth Fund grantee.

Related reading:

Read Eric Coleman’s GrantWatch Blog post, coauthored with Amy Berman of the John A. Hartford Foundation, titled “Improving Care Transitions: A Key Component of Health Reform,” published April 29, 2010.

Read the University of Colorado School of Medicine’s October 2 press release, “Eric Coleman, MD Wins MacArthur Foundation ‘Genius’ Grant,” October 2.