To Reduce Hospital Readmissions, Get Everyone Involved

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<p>When patients have to be rehospitalized shortly after they're discharged, their health outcomes are compromised and the costs of care rise dramatically. That's the impetus behind a Medicare policy that financially penalizes hospitals for having high readmission rates for certain medical conditions. </p><p>But penalties alone are unlikely to be enough, say experts from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and The Commonwealth Fund in a <em>Journal of the American Medical Association</em> <a href="/publications/journal-article/2013/jan/recasting-readmissions-placing-hospital-role-community">"Viewpoint" published today</a>. Efforts to improve care transitions and stem the tide of unnecessary readmissions should be a collaborative effort in which hospitals, home health agencies, and social service providers—as well as patients and family caregivers—all take part. And reimbursement systems must reflect this by spreading costs and savings alike across all providers. </p>
<p>Reducing hospital use altogether, and not just readmissions, the authors conclude, will require a stronger primary and preventive care foundation and better chronic disease management for those populations most at risk. </p>
<p>This week, The Commonwealth Fund will be releasing new case studies of hospital and health system innovations to improve care transitions and reduce readmissions—stay tuned. </p>