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Hospitals Take Steps To Prevent Readmissions To Reduce Costs

Armen Hareyan's picture

The WallStreet Journal on Wednesday examined how hospitals have begun"taking steps to prevent the most common risk to patients after discharge:landing back in the hospital due to complications that could have beenprevented with better follow-up care." According to the Journal,a "revolving door of readmissions is driving up costs for hospitals andcausing needless harm to patients, especially elderly people with multiplechronic diseases."

Almost 18% of Medicare beneficiaries who are admitted to a hospital arereadmitted within 30 days at a cost of $15 billion, according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission. As a result, "readmission rates arecoming under increasing scrutiny from regulators, insurers, employers andquality-measurement groups, who are considering methods to tie payment to lowerreadmissions," the Journal reports.

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The Institute for Healthcare Improvement has partnered with severalhospitals to reduce readmissions through programs that identify patient riskfor readmission, schedule follow-up visits with patients before discharge, sendnurses on at-home visits to ensure patient adherence to medication regimens,monitor patients at home, and educate patients and families on adherence tomedication and self-care regimens.

Most hospitals currently "don't provide such services" in partbecause they "aren't paid to coordinate care once a patient leaves,"the Journal reports. However, "that may change" asmanaged care companies and health insurers experiment with programs that coverthe cost of coordination of patient care, according to the Journal.Randall Krakauer, medical director at Aetna, said, "We believe this canimprove the quality of care for members and more than pay for itself byreducing the costs of care by a larger amount than the cost of the homevisits" (Landro, Wall Street Journal, 12/12).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health PolicyReport is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.