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Reducing Hospital Readmissions

It seems obvious that hospitals should be trying to reduce their readmissions rates, but unfortunately it isn’t as straightforward as wanting to ensure the best possible treatment and outcomes for patients.  Hospitals are under increasing pressure to reduce hospital readmission rates under the Affordable Healthcare Act’s Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, which lays out a plan to cut Medicare payments for underperforming hospitals.  Only readmissions within a 30-day window for three common conditions, acute myocardial infarction, heart failure, and pneumonia are currently being looked at; however, there are plans to expand to other common diagnoses with preventable readmissions. While there is some debate about whether the economic penalty assessed can outweigh the increase in costs a hospital faces from implementing changes, there is little disagreement that certain steps can and should be taken to reduce readmissions.

Among the steps hospitals can take are preventing premature discharge, lowering the risk of infection, ensuring a patient has access to quality transitional and post-discharge care, and managing medications.  Numerous studies have shown the importance of post-discharge care in preventing readmissions.  In particular, using home healthcare and/or a professionally-led transitional care team has been shown to significantly reduce hospital readmissions.  For more information on the AHA’s Hospital Readmissions Reduction Act, click here.  Read more about reducing hospital readmissions in Becker’s Hospital Review’s 10 Proven Ways to Reduce Hospital Readmissions