Indiana hospitals seeing fewer readmissions

Indiana hospitals are doing something right. Fewer patients are coming back within 30 days of discharge for more care.

A new government report shows that readmissions at Indiana hospitals dipped by 7.5 percent over a five-year period. Nationally, readmission rates fell by 8 percent over the same period.

The government says readmissions are often unnecessary and cost taxpayers $26 billion a year.

Each year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services publishes a list that not only ranks how hospitals did, but also includes penalties that can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In raw numbers, Indiana hospitals cut readmissions by 2,474 in 2015 compared with 2010.

The government cuts reimbursements to hospitals with a higher-than-expected readmission rate for targeted conditions, including heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia.

That can be an expensive ding, as many hospitals count on Medicare for one-third to one-half of all patient revenue.

“Not only are readmissions costly, but they are often a sign of poor-quality care,” CMS said. “Many readmissions can be avoided through improvements in care, such as making sure that patients leave the hospital with appropriate medications, instructions for follow-up care, and follow-up appointments scheduled to make sure their recovery stays on track.”

All states, except Vermont, saw their readmissions rates fall over the five-year period. Twenty-four states had lower rates last year than Indiana's. Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia had higher rates. Delaware tied with Indiana.

Overall admissions in Indiana were down statewide as well, from 210,919 in 2010 to 186,241 in 2015.

Indiana’s readmissions fell to 16.1 percent in 2015, down from 17.4 percent in 2010.

The report, issued Sept. 13, did not say which hospitals were doing the best or worst. That list usually comes out in the summer.

The states with the lowest readmission rates in 2015 were Utah, Idaho, Hawaii, Colorado (all below 13 percent.) The states with the highest readmission rates were Maryland, Michigan, West Virginia and the District of Columbia (all higher than 18 percent).

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