The number of preventable readmission at U.S. hospitals dropped by 8% over the past five years, according to data released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Between 2010 and 2015, hospital readmissions dropped in 49 of 50 states. The reduction amounted to approximately 100,000 readmissions in 2015. Since 2010, there have been 565,000 fewer readmissions, CMS estimates.
CMS credits two of its initiatives for the readmission reduction:
- The Hospital Readmission Reduction Program, established under the Affordable Care Act, reduces payments to hospitals with "excess" readmissions as determined by CMS.
- The Partnership for Patients program, which is testing approaches to improving transitions from the hospital to community settings.
The data show these efforts are working, according to a Sept. 13 blog post by Patrick Conway, MD, chief medical officer of CMS; and Tim Gronniger, deputy chief of staff of CMS.
While hospitals have been working to reduce readmission and avoid penalties from CMS, new data questions the use of readmissions as a quality measure.
Hospital Readmissions are Not the Enemy
Researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine compared hospitals readmission rates and mortality rates in six areas: heart attack, pneumonia, heart failure, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and coronary artery bypass.
They found that hospitals with the highest readmission rates earned better mortality scores in patients treated for heart failure, COPD, and stroke.
A pair of recent studies found that one in four readmissions were avoidable, and that 29.5% of pediatric readmissions were potentially preventable.