1 Out of 3 Patients Hospitalized for Heart Conditions, Pneumonia Readmitted Within 15 Days

Friday, February 1st, 2013
This post was written by Cheryl Miller

Almost 3 million Medicare patients hospitalized for heart failure (HF), heart attack, or pneumonia were readmitted to the hospital within 30 days, and almost two-thirds were readmitted within 15 days, according to a study from Columbia University Medical Center and published in JAMA.

Hospital readmissions are common and can be a marker of poor healthcare quality and efficiency. To lower readmission rates, CMS began publicly reporting 30-day risk-standardized readmission rates for these conditions after these measures were endorsed by the National Quality Forum.

CMS also began penalizing hospitals with high readmission rates; one way to avoid these readmissions penalties is by arming yourself with as much of your own readmissions data as possible, says Amy Boutwell, MD, MPP, president of Collaborative Healthcare Strategies, and co-founder of the IHI STAAR (State Action on Avoidable Rehospitalizations) initiative. Too many hospitals and healthcare organizations are relying on data from vendors and secondary information sources. Hiring a quality analyst run your discharge data can be very helpful. Ms. Boutwell elaborates on this and several other recommendations adapted from the IHI STAAR initiative.

Another way to avoid readmission penalities is to increase the use of telehealth solutions. Telehealth could reach as many as 1.8 million patients worldwide by 2017; studies show that an estimated 308,000 patients were remotely monitored by their healthcare provider for congestive heart failure (CHF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, hypertension and mental health conditions worldwide in 2012. The majority of these patients were post-acute patients who had been hospitalized and discharged.

One area where high costs aren’t impacting professional decisions is in the use of expensive imaging tests. Despite evidence to the contrary, a new study from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine shows that price transparency doesn’t influence the way physicians order imaging tests; instead, when it comes to expensive tests like MRIs, it seems that doctors have already decided they need to know the information regardless of their cost.

Read all of these stories in their entirety in this week’s Healthcare Business Weekly Update.

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