Medicare's Measure for Readmissions Fails to Identify Excellence and Improvement

San Diego County is doing much better than the national average at reducing readmissions to hospitals, yet nearly all their eligible hospitals are being penalized by Medicare's hospital readmissions penalty program.

Altarum Institute’s Center for Elder Care and Advanced Illness today released data showing that San Diego County is doing much better than the national average at reducing readmissions to hospitals, yet nearly all their eligible hospitals are being penalized by Medicare’s hospital readmissions penalty program.

The problem is that Medicare measures progress by dividing the number of readmissions by the number of discharges from each hospital; it turns out that good practices reduce the discharges at nearly the same rate as readmissions, making the ratio stay the same despite substantial improvement.

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