Healthcare Business News

Readmission rate continues to drop for Medicare beneficiaries

By Maureen McKinney
Posted: May 7, 2014 - 2:45 pm ET

(Story updated at 2:58 p.m. ET.)

HHS has a long way to go toward meeting its end-of-2014 patient-safety goals, but newly released data appear to show encouraging progress on preventing repeat trips to the hospital and curbing adverse events, such as falls and infections.

The all-cause 30-day readmission rate for Medicare beneficiaries continued its downward trend, dropping to 17.5% through the end of 2013, according to an HHS report released Wednesday. That's down from the most recent numbers, published in December on the CMS' blog, showing a readmission rate hovering just under 18% during the first eight months of 2013. The Medicare all-cause readmission rates had held stubbornly around the 19% mark from 2007 to 2011, before dipping to 18.5% in 2012.

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In a news release, HHS said the two-year drop amounted to 150,000 fewer preventable readmissions.

HHS also touted a 9% decrease in preventable harms since 2010—from 145 hospital-acquired conditions per 1,000 discharges to 132 HACs per 1,000 discharges—a reduction it said accounts for 15,000 fewer deaths and $4.1 billion in savings.

Federal officials credited the gains in part to its Partnership for Patients initiative, a $1 billion safety initiative launched in 2011 with funds from the health reform law that aims to reduce readmissions by 20% and hospital-acquired conditions by 40%, both by the end of this year.

The six-page report drew data from a number of sources, including the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's National Healthcare Safety Network, and the Partnership for Patients' hospital engagement networks.

The Partnership for Patients has drawn sharp criticism from some leaders in the patient-safety field, who argue the lack of standardized measures make HEN data unreliable.

Follow Maureen McKinney on Twitter: @MHMMcKinney

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