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Newsletter Article


Hospital Readmissions Are Frequent and Costly

As the country prepares for federal health reform, policymakers and health care providers are seeking efficiencies. A Commonwealth-Fund supported study in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that one of five Medicare beneficiaries discharged from the hospital are readmitted within 30 days, and half of patients admitted for reasons other than surgery are readmitted without having seen a doctor in follow-up. All together, unplanned rehospitalizations cost Medicare $17.4 billion in 2004. The researchers recommend strategies for reducing readmissions such as planned transitions, timely follow-up, and aggressive chronic disease management.

A Commonwealth Fund webinar, held April 2, focused on approaches to reducing readmissions. Along with study author Stephen Jencks, M.D., M.P.H., panelists included Paul M. Schyve, M.D., Senior Vice President, The Joint Commission; Carol Wagner, R.N., M.B.A., Vice President, Patient Safety, Washington State Hospital Association; and Anne Mutti, M.P.A., Senior Analyst, Medicare Payment Advisory Commission. Commonwealth Fund Vice President Anne-Marie Audet, M.D., moderated. A recording of the webinar is available, as are the presentations.

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