Being mentioned next to the word "worse" in one of the latest Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' HospitalCompare data files is the kind of achievement no hospital aspires to.
The list names 292 hospitals whose 30-day readmission rates were the highest in the nation in at least one of three disease categories, acute myocardial infarction, pneumonia and congestive heart failure over three years.
Of the 4,627 hospitals listed , 54 were "worse" in two categories and seven hospitals were "worse" in all three categories. More than one-third of hospitals had too few cases to be scored.
Rates of readmission were recorded as high as 33.8%.
Although these hospitals aren't necessarily the same ones that will be financially penalized for being in the highest 25% of readmissions starting October 1, 2012 – the three-year spreadsheet uses only two of the three years being evaluated for payment* – it's close enough to give organization leaders a pretty good idea what their chances of getting a reimbursement cut from Medicare look like right now.
The data tables should clue them in as to whether their organizations should be working like crazy to find out why their patients keep coming back, and reverse that trend.
In an Aug. 5 briefing about the HospitalCompare update with CMS administrator Don Berwick, MD, the agency's chief medical officer Patrick Conway, MD, said that was the intent. He said CMS's goal in publishing the data now is so "hospitals will know their readmission rates. ... Some of those hospitals will improve and no longer get the payment adjustment, and [for] hospitals that don't improve and do end up in the lower group, there will be a payment adjustment."