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'Readmissions Week' Recap

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, February 14, 2013

After all, the health reform law that established such penalties wasn't passed until March of that year, and I suggested that few hospitals would have had a chance to read or understand it until fall or later.

But he replied with an adamant 'No,' saying hospitals have known that their readmission rates were abysmal for a very long time.

"The interest and concern about higher readmission rates really extends back at least 15 years, both in terms of recognizing that they are too high, as well as the development of care models that are effective at reducing them," Goodman said. "This is quite a long-standing problem that's not news to anyone in the healthcare community."

He also said that hospitals must do a better job to help their patients assume responsibility as well. "There are stories that reflect the importance of patients to be engaged in their own care, and their caregivers and families get engaged. This is a big problem. It's about the fragmentation in our healthcare system, the lack of communication. But it also reflects how they generally do with regard to their health not just in 30 days, but in 90 days and 180 days."

Also this week the Journal of the American Medical Association published  an argument-dulling paper saying that there is only a weak link between readmissions and mortality performance.

The report, by Yale University School of Medicine algorithm expert Harlan Krumholz, MD, looked at 3 million hospital admissions for Medicare beneficiaries treated for heart attack, pneumonia or heart failure, who were readmitted in 30 days. Krumholz then tried to see if hospitals that did well in readmissions also did well in 30-day mortality, or whether the inverse was true, as some hospitals executives have complained.

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