NY hospitals reduce readmit rates

by Bill Hammond |  | NY Torch

healthNew York’s hospitals are outpacing the nation in reducing avoidable readmissions, according to newly released data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Facing newly instituted Medicare penalties when too many of their discharged patients bounce back within 30 days, the state’s hospitals collectively lowered their readmission rates from 19.9 percent in 2010 to 17.8 percent in 2015.

That equates to a 10.6 percent decline, compared to the national average of 8 percent. It also translates to 8,407 fewer New Yorkers per year unnecessarily returning to the hospital, CMS said.

New York had a lot of room for improvement: It formerly had the fourth highest readmission figure in the country; now, it sits at seventh.

Excessive readmissions cost Medicare an estimated $17 billion a year, CMS said:

Not only are readmissions costly, but they are often a sign of poor quality care. Many readmissions can be avoided through improvements in care, such as making sure that patients leave the hospital with appropriate medications, instructions for follow-up care, and follow-up appointments scheduled to make sure their recovery stays on track.

Under a provision of the Affordable Care Act that took effect in 2012, Medicare has lowered payments to hospitals with excessive readmissions within 30 days for certain conditions, such as heart attack and pneumonia. CMS said that reform led to lower rates for all but one of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The exception was Vermont, where the rate ticked upward by a small amount that CMS said was not statistically significant.