Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Single 30-day hospital readmission metric fails to reflect changing risk factors

Single 30-day hospital readmission metric fails to reflect changing risk factors.

wsj-readmissions

From the 3 June 2015 P & T news release

Separate 8-day and 30-day benchmarks would better inform readmission prevention strategies, authors say

A new study from researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center suggests that risk factors for readmission change significantly over the course of the 30 days following hospital discharge. Thirty-day hospital readmission rates have become a federal quality metric intended to reflect inpatient quality of care and unnecessary health-care utilization.

Published June 2 in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the research suggests that two distinct 8-day and 30-day readmission rates would serve as better inpatient quality measurements and would better inform readmission prevention strategies.

he authors also noted that other research has shown that hospitals that strictly follow evidence-based care standards do not necessarily have the lowest readmission rates and that readmission rates do not serve as a benchmark for inpatient mortality. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services may reduce payments to acute-care hospitals deemed to have excess readmissions within 30 days of discharge.

The study also found that discharges between 8 a.m. and 12:59 p.m. were associated with lower odds of an early readmission. The authors noted that discharge in the first part of the day likely gave patients and their families more time to access community resources such as pharmacies and social supports, thereby reducing the likelihood of readmission.

The authors also found that social determinants of health are closely tied to readmissions, as they affect how patients access care. They evaluated the effect of barriers to health literacy on readmissions and found that they were associated with both early and late readmissions. A patient’s insurance status was also relevant among those readmitted in the late period; patients with unsupplemented Medicare or Medicaid were more likely to be readmitted 8 or more days after discharge.

“The growing movement toward accountable-care organizations and patient-centered medical homes may prove beneficial in preventing unnecessary hospital readmissions,” Graham said. “Patients discharged from the hospital need support from and teamwork among hospitalists, primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, visiting nurses, pharmacists, and others.”

The authors stressed that both hospital and outpatient settings need systems of care that closely monitor patients as they transition their medical care from the hospital team back to the primary care team. Post-discharge monitoring would better enable a team to make sure patients adhere to the detailed care plan designed by the hospital team, such as taking medications correctly and keeping follow-up appointments.

Source: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; June 2, 2015.

July 21, 2015 Posted by | health care | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[press release] Reducing Hospital Readmission Rates Will Require Community-Focused Effort

From the Wiley press release (February 2015)

Recent research indicates that most of the variation in hospital readmission rates in the United States is related to geography and other factors over which hospitals have little or no control. Access and quality of care outside of the hospital setting seem to be especially important.

A new editorial that addresses these findings notes that a broader focus on community health systems, not just performance of individual hospitals, may be needed to reduce hospital readmissions.

Because high readmission rates trigger reductions in Medicare reimbursements to hospitals, facilities in socioeconomically disadvantaged and underserved communities may be disproportionately penalized. The editorial is published in Health Services Research.

Access and quality outside the hospital may affect the degree to which the HRRP can achieve its intended outcome, fewer readmissions, but other factors are likely to determine whether the policy is an operational success. For the HRRP, operational success could be defined as whether hospitals respond in a manner consistent with the underlying motivations of improving quality of care and reducing costs. In terms of improving quality, a recent meta-analysis of randomized trials found that interventions designed to prevent readmissions tended be moderately effective (relative risk of 30-day readmission 0.82, 95 percent CI, 0.73–0.91). The studied interventions addressed care both during and after hospitalization, such as through case management, patient education, home visits, and patient self-management support, among other activities. Multifaceted interventions were more common and were 30–40 percent more effective than one-dimensional ones (Leppin et al. 2014), yet they may also be more challenging to implement and more costly. The degree to which hospitals nationwide are implementing quality improvement interventions that target readmissions does not appear to have been described.

February 5, 2015 Posted by | health care | , , , | Leave a comment

[News article] Hospital readmissions after surgery associated with new post-discharge complications

From  the  February 3, 2015  Science Life article (University of Chicago)  by John Easton in At the BedsideSidebar

surgery

A study including data from 346 hospitals found that readmissions during the first 30 days after surgery were associated with new complications—post-discharge problems related to the surgical procedure—and not, as previously suspected, to the worsening of medical conditions the patient already had or acquired while hospitalized for surgery.

In this study, published in the February 3 issue of JAMA, Ryan P. Merkow, MD, MS, a clinical scholar in residence at the American College of Surgeons, now chief surgery resident at the University of Chicago, and colleagues examined the reasons, timing, and factors associated with unplanned postoperative hospital readmissions within 30 days after surgery.

Financial penalties for readmissions have made them an important quality and cost-containment issue for hospitals and clinicians. Hospitals try to reduce readmissions, but until now little has been known about the reasons for readmission after surgery. Identifying these reasons could advance quality-improvement efforts and reduce surgical readmissions.

“The Hospital Readmission Reduction Program is federal law and is here to stay,” Merkow said. “Hospital administrators and quality departments must determine how to approach readmissions, and in particular readmissions after surgery.”

“Until recently, efforts were primary focused on medical conditions,” he said, “namely heart failure, myocardial infarction and pneumonia. However, a growing emphasis by policy makers now specifically targets readmissions after surgery. Yet, surprisingly, little is known about why surgical patients are being readmitted. It is completely unclear if oversight initiatives such as public reporting and pay-for-performance should be similarly applied to both medical and surgical patients.”

“Unlike patients being admitted for a medical condition, surgical patients experience a discrete, invasive event (i.e., surgery) with known risks of complications,” Merkow said. “We believe this study definitively separates medical and surgical readmissions as distinct entities that require unique reduction strategies.”

In this study, the unplanned 30-day readmission rate following 498,875 operations was 5.7 percent. Rates ranged from 3.8 percent after hysterectomy to 14.9 percent after lower-extremity vascular bypass. Only 2.3 percent of patients were readmitted for a complication they had experienced during their index hospitalization.

The researchers found that the most common reason for unplanned readmissions was surgical-site infections, followed by intestinal ileus or obstruction, bleeding or anemia, blood clots, and surgical-device issues. Surgical-site infections (SSI) ranged from 11.4 percent after bariatric surgery to 36.4 percent after lower extremity vascular bypass.

The findings have at least two significant policy implications, the authors insist. First, because most readmissions result from post-operative complications, “readmissions after surgery penalize hospitals twice.” And second, because it has been difficult to reduce the most common post-operative complications, such as surgical site infections, penalizing hospitals for problems they do not know how to prevent could be counterproductive, leading to untested solutions that may be ineffective or even counterproductive.

“Understanding the underlying reasons for readmission, the timing, and the associated factors should help hospitals undertake targeted quality-improvement initiatives to reduce readmissions,” the authors wrote. “However, surgical readmissions mostly reflect post-discharge complications, and readmission rates may be difficult to reduce until effective strategies are put forth to reduce common complications such as SSI.”

Efforts should focus on reducing complication rates overall rather than just those that occur after discharge, the authors insist. “This will subsequently reduce readmission rates as well. Readmissions after surgery may not be an appropriate measure for pay-for-performance programs but rather better suited as a measure for hospitals to track internally.”

February 4, 2015 Posted by | health care | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News article] Strategies that reduce early hospital readmissions

From the 13 May 2014 ScienceDaily article

30-day readmissions can be reduced by almost 20 percent when specific efforts are taken to prevent them, a review has found. Key among these are interventions to help patients deal with the work passed on to them at discharge. “Effective approaches often are multifaceted and proactively seek to understand the complete patient context, often including in-person visits to the patient’s home after discharge,” says the lead author.

To put this problem into context, studies estimate that 1 in 5 Medicare beneficiaries is readmitted within 30 days of a hospitalization, at a cost of more than $26 billion a year. “Patients are sent home from hospitals because we have addressed their acute issues,” says Dr. Leppin. “They go home with a list of tasks that include what they were doing prior to the hospitalization and new self-care tasks prescribed on discharge. Some patients cannot handle all these requests, and it is not uncommon for them to be readmitted soon after they get home. Sometimes these readmissions can be prevented.”

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May 14, 2014 Posted by | health care | , | Leave a comment

Hospital readmission rates linked to availability of care, socioeconomics

From the 11 May 2012 Eureka News Alert

American Heart Association meeting report – Abstract 12

Differences in regional hospital readmission rates for heart failure are more closely tied to the availability of care and socioeconomics than to hospital performance or patients’ degree of illness, according to research presented at the American Heart Association’s Quality of Care & Outcomes Research Scientific Sessions 2012.

U.S. regional readmission rates for heart failure vary widely ― from 10 percent to 32 percent ― researchers found. Communities with higher rates were likely to have more physicians and hospital beds and their populations were likely to be poor, black and relatively sicker. People 65 and older are also readmitted more frequently.

To cut costs, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services plans to penalize hospitals with higher readmission rates related to heart failure, heart attack and pneumonia. Next year, hospitals with higher-than-average 30-day readmission rates will face reductions in Medicare payments.

But the penalties don’t address the supply and societal influences that can increase readmission rates, said Karen E. Joynt, M.D., lead author of the study and an instructor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Mass….

May 14, 2012 Posted by | health care | , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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