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Reducing Hospital Readmissions Starts with Better Collaboration

 |  By Christopher Cheney  
   October 23, 2014

With Medicare upping the ante on hospitals to reduce readmission rates, pressure is mounting on hospitals to get the job done. Crafting collaborative relationships with community-based caregivers to boost patient care is key, researchers suggest.

A pair of research studies released earlier this month on efforts to reduce hospital readmissions reached the same conclusion: There will be no quick fix, but boosting collaboration between hospitals and community-based caregivers is the key to solving the problem.

The task ahead, authors of the studies say, is crafting specialized keys to unlock the unique combination of readmission difficulties that plague communities across the country.

"The hospitals that don't have trusting relationships with local providers are going to face a more complicated challenge," says L. Elizabeth Goldman, MD, lead author of a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. "They need to take a different model of outpatient care. There needs to be a structure—a primary care structure and financial structure—that works."

Medicare payments for hospital readmissions cost the federal government about $26 billion annually, with more than half that expenditure linked to avoidable hospitalizations, according to a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report published last year.

Christopher Cheney is the senior clinical care​ editor at HealthLeaders.

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