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Studies pinpoint one problem behind poor hospital readmission rates

Posted by fivebyfive on January 23, 2013

E.J. Boyer - Nashville Business Journal

New studies released this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggest that higher-than-expected hospital readmission rates are a result of poor coordination among different providers following patient discharge.

A new focus, they conclude, should be put on improving post-discharge care and ensuring a smoother transition from hospital to home.

In Nashville, a bevy of local companies — including as RoundingWell, Parental Health and Medalogix — have sprung up to bridge that gap between patients at home and their clinicians.

As a whole, the hospital industry has been more concentrated on reducing readmission rates for heart failure, heart attacks and pneumonia since a new financial penalty went into effect Oct. 1 that could reduce Medicare reimbursements by as much as 1 percent.

The Wall Street Journal reports on specific findings of several of the studies included in the Journal of the American Medical Association and concludes that the problem does not seem to have an easy fix.

For example, one study included in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that communities that had Medicare-funded care-transition programs in place were able to reduce readmissions compared with those without such programs, but not enough to drive them down significantly as a percentage of hospital discharges.

Modern Healthcare reports that the study’s authors point to similar federally sponsored programs as a potential tool for curbing readmissions, such as the reform-driven Community-Based Care Transitions Program and HHS Partnership for Patients, a federal initiative whose goals include a 20 percent drop in readmissions by the end of 2013.


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