HCA, Nashville, said using an emergency department coding procedure developed by the American College of Emergency Physicians boosted its operating earnings by $75 million to $100 million in the first quarter ended March 31. The company also said that its readmission rates compare favorably with those reported in a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine.
HCA said that it earned $360 million, up from $170 million in 2008s first quarter. Revenue increased 4.3% to $7.43 billion. Admissions declined 0.9% but equivalent admissions increased 1.9% when comparing the quarters on a same-facility basis in each case.
HCA began studying the use of the new coding procedure after the CMS said a so-called proxy system, such as the ACEPs, would comply with Medicare regulations, said Milton Johnson, executive vice president and chief financial officer. The system, which HCA implemented fully by the end of 2008, greatly simplifies the coding procedure, Johnson said. Financial results of the coding system could vary in future quarters, Johnson added.
Jonathan Perlin, chief medical officer and senior vice president of quality, said that HCAs Medicare readmission rates are much lower than the 19.6% of readmissions within 30 days of discharge reported in the journal study.