Hospitals Serving Vulnerable Populations Penalized for Readmission Rates

Unaccounted for social and clinical characteristics of a hospital's patient population explain nearly half of the difference in readmission rates between the best and the worst performing hospitals when it comes to Medicare penalties for hospital readmission rates.

Unaccounted for social and clinical characteristics of a hospital's patient population explain nearly half of the difference in readmission rates between the best and the worst performing hospitals when it comes to Medicare penalties for hospital readmission rates, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

assessed 29 patient characteristics as potential predictors of 30-day readmission.

using survey data from the Health and Retirement Study and linked claims for those participants enrolled in Medicare who were hospitalized from 2009 to 2012. In addition, they

assessed the extent to which patient characteristics account for differences in hospital readmission rates by

Researchers from Harvard Medical School

of hospital readmission rates

he difference in the probability of readmission between participants admitted to hospitals in the highest vs lowest quintile of hospital-wide readmission rates was reduced by 48% from 4.41 percentage points to 2.29 percentage points.

assessed, 22 significantly predicted readmission beyond standard Medicare adjustments . After adjusting for these patient characteristics, t

Of the patient characteristics

Patient characteristics not included in Medicare’s current risk-adjustment methods explained much of the difference in readmission risk between patients admitted to hospitals with higher vs lower readmission rates," the authors determined.

As such, penalties for hospitals with high readmission rates, may be based, to a large extent, simply on the patient population they serve.

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