Readmission penalties in Massachusetts hit teaching hospitals

wheelchairsMedscape reports on a JAMA article looking at readmission rates:

Ninety-five-bed Falmouth (Massachusetts) Hospital on Cape Cod doesn’t have the national reputation of Massachusetts General Hospital, 77 miles to the north in Boston.

But the small hospital bests the big teaching hospital in the big city on this point — it’s not getting penalized by Medicare for excessive readmissions within 30 days of discharge. Massachusetts General, in contrast, will forego about 0.5 percent of its Medicare reimbursement in fiscal year 2013 because its readmission rate was higher than what the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) projected based on the case mix, or medical complexity, of their patients.

Cambridge-based Institute for Healthcare Improvement offers a little perspective:

In this Viewpoint, we suggest that it may be more advantageous to view readmissions within a broader systems and community context that effectively engages all stakeholders to cooperatively improve outcomes…The Hospital Readmission Reduction Program has raised awareness of readmissions as an indicator of a fragmented health care delivery system. Yet financial penalties alone are not likely to drive change. As the nation moves toward comprehensive payment and delivery system reforms to promote integrated care, the focus should shift toward reducing avoidable hospital use, not just readmission, by strengthening primary and preventive care and chronic disease management for populations of patients at risk of poor health outcomes.

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