New Hospital Readmissions Data Boon to Patients, Payors

Monday, July 13th, 2009
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

With a reduction in hospital readmissions high on the healthcare reform agenda, the CMS Hospital Compare site is now providing data on 30-day readmissions rates for patients with heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia. On average, about a fifth of patients with these conditions are rehospitalized within 30 days of discharge, a statistic CMS is hoping to influence with the publication of this data. The new Hospital Compare measures, described in a featured Healthcare Business Weekly Update story this week, are endorsed by the NQF and supported by the Hospital Quality Alliance. One way to avoid these readmissions is to pay close attention to care transitions to avoid medical errors or misunderstandings that often send the elderly back to the hospital.

Also last week, a study published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes found that hospitals in New Jersey, Vermont, New Hampshire, Washington and Oregon had the least deaths and fewest hospital readmissions following a heart attack or heart failure. The worst performing states were Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri and Louisiana.

The availability of this data is good news for consumers who want to maximize their chances of a successful recovery from these conditions and for healthcare organizations hoping to reduce the cost of avoidable readmissions, especially for the Medicare population. The CMS readmission measures — as well as improved data on previously reported mortality rates — are risk-adjusted and take into account previous health problems to “level the playing field” among hospitals and to help ensure accuracy in performance reporting.

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