Who Has the Highest Rate of Readmission After Hospital Discharge?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
"patient in hospital bed with nursing staff gathered around" by Penn State is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0Andrea Gruneir, PhD
Department of Family Medicine
University of Alberta
Edmonton, AB Canada

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Hospital readmissions – when a patient is discharged from hospital but then returns to hospital in a short period of time – are known to be a problem, both for the patients and for the larger health system. Hospital readmissions have received considerable attention and there have been a number of initiatives to try to reduce them, but with mixed success. Older adults are among the most vulnerable group for hospital readmission. Older adults are also the largest users of continuing care services, such as home care and long-term care homes (also known as nursing homes). Yet, few large studies have really considered how older adults with different pathways through hospital compare on the risk of hospital readmission.

In our study, we take a population-level approach and use health administrative data to create a large cohort of older adults who were hospitalized in Ontario between 2008 and 2015. For each of the 701,527 patients in our study, we identified where they received care before the hospitalization (in the community or in long-term care) and where they received care after discharge (in the community, in the community with home care, or in long-term care).  Continue reading

Lump Sum Payments To Long-term Care Hospitals May Have Created Incentive To Discharge Patients

Yan S. Kim, MD PhD Delivery Science Fellow Division of Research Kaiser Permanente Northern California Oakland, CA 94612MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Yan S. Kim, MD PhD
Delivery Science Fellow Division of Research
Kaiser Permanente Northern California
Oakland, CA 94612

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Kim: Long-term care hospitals first emerged in the 1980s as an alternative to lengthy acute-care hospital stays for patients with complex medical problems who need prolonged hospital-level care.  In 2002, Medicare changed its payment method for these facilities from cost-based to a lump sum per admission based on the diagnosis.  Under this system, which is still in place, Medicare pays these hospitals a higher rate for patients who stay a minimum number of days based on the patient’s condition.  Shorter stays are paid much less and longer stays do not necessary generate higher reimbursements.

Using Medicare data, we analyzed a national sample of patients who required prolonged mechanical ventilation – the most common, and among the most costly, conditions for patients in long-term care hospitals – to examine whether this payment policy has created incentives to base discharge decisions on payments.  We found that in the years after the policy’s implementation there was a substantial spike in the percentage of discharges on and immediately after the minimum-stay threshold was met, while very few patients were discharged before the threshold. By contrast, prior to 2002, discharges were evenly distributed around the day that later became the short-stay threshold.  These findings confirm that the current payment policy has created unintended incentives for long-term care hospitals to base the timing of patient discharges on payments and highlight how responsive these hospitals are to payment incentives.

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