Study Finds Medicare Readmissions Penalties Have Not Increased Mortality from Heart Failure

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Teryl K. Nuckols, MD Vice Chair, Clinical Research Director, Division of General Internal Medicine Cedars Sinai Los Angeles, California

Dr. Nuckols

Teryl K. Nuckols, MD
Vice Chair, Clinical Research
Director, Division of General Internal Medicine
Cedars Sinai
Los Angeles, California

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

Response: The Medicare Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP) penalizes hospitals with increased 30-day readmission rates among seniors admitted with heart failure (HF).  Heart failure readmission rates declined markedly following the implementation of this policy. Two facts have raised concerns about whether the HRRP might have also inadvertently increased 30-day heart failure mortality rates.

First, before the policy was implemented, hospitals with higher heart failure readmission rates had lower 30-day HF mortality rates, suggesting that readmissions are often necessary and beneficial in this population. Second, 30-day HF mortality rose nationally after the HRRP was implemented, and the timing of the increase has suggested a possible link to the policy.

Are hospitals turning patients away, putting them at risk of death, or is the increase in heart failure mortality just a coincidence? To answer this question, we compared trends in 30-day HF mortality rates between penalized hospitals and non-penalized hospitals because 30-day HF readmissions declined much more at hospitals subject to penalties under this policy.

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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

Transitional Care Services from Hospital to Home Underutilized, Can Save Money and Readmissions

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Andrew B. Bindman, MD Professor of Medicine PRL- Institute for Health Policy Studies University of California San Francisco

Dr. Bindman


Andrew B. Bindman, MD

Professor of Medicine
PRL- Institute for Health Policy Studies
University of California San Francisco

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


Response:
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the use and impact of a payment code for transitional care management services which was implemented by Medicare in.

The transition of patients from hospitals or skilled nursing facilities back to the community often involves a change in a patient’s health care provider and introduces risks in communication which can contribute to lapses in health care quality and safety. Transitional care management services include contacting the patient within 2 business days after discharge and seeing the patient in the office within 7-14 days. Medicare implemented payment for transitional care management services with the hope that this would increase the delivery of these services believing that they could reduce readmissions, reduce costs and improve health outcomes.

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Readmissions After Stent Surgery Common and Often Due to Co-Morbid Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

“Open Stent” by Lenore Edman is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Example of Open Cardiac Stent

Chun Shing Kwok, MBBS, MSc, BSc, MRCP(UK)
Clinical Lecturer in Cardiology and Specialist Registrar in Cardiology
Keele University & Royal Stoke University Hospital Guy Hilton Research 

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

Response: Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) is a common revascularization modality in the treatment for coronary heart disease and the mortality rate after this procedure is low. Improved survival after PCI procedures has led to a growing population at risk of readmissions.  Early unplanned readmissions are important because they are a burden to patients, the local health care economy and it also serves as a quality of care indicator.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: Our analysis of 833,344 PCI procedures in the United States demonstrates that unplanned readmissions within 30 days of the index PCI are common (9.3%). The mean total hospital cost was higher for patients who were readmitted compared with those not readmitted ($37,524 vs $23,211). The majority of readmissions within 30 days are noncardiac (56%), with female sex, chronic kidney disease, liver failure, atrial fibrillation, increasing comorbidity burden, and discharge location among the strongest predictors of unplanned 30-day readmission. Patients who experienced an unplanned readmission for noncardiac reasons tended to be younger, with more comorbidities, including alcohol misuse, cancer, and dementia, whereas patients who are readmitted for cardiac reasons are more likely to have in-hospital complications at their index PCI event. 

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Our results suggest that 30-day readmissions in the United States is common and comorbid illnesses and places of discharge are important factors that influence readmissions. There are important financial consequences of such readmissions, and further strategies to reduce the prevalence should be explored. 

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Future work should explore if optimization of the management of any comorbid condition during a patient’s index admission for PCI and outreach programs to patients discharged to short-term hospitals, other institutions, and care homes may reduce early readmissions. 

Disclosures: Financial support was provided by the North Staffs Heart Committee. This work was conducted as a part of Dr. Kwok’s PhD research, which was supported by Biosensors International. 

Citations: 

Kwok CS, Rao SV, Potts JE, et al. Burden of 30-day readmissions after percutaneous coronary intervention in 833,344 patients in the United States: predictors, causes, and cost insights from the Nationwide Readmission Database. J Am Coll Cardiol Intv. 2018;Epub ahead of print.

Kalra A, Shishehbor MH, Simon DI. Percutaneous coronary intervention readmissions: where are the solutions? J Am Coll Cardiol Intv. 2018;Epub ahead of print.

 

 

 

 

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Readmissions After LVAD For Heart Failure High, Mostly For Non-Cardiac Causes

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Sahil Agrawal, MBBS MD

Division of Cardiology, St. Luke’s University Health Network, Bethlehem, PA
Dr Lohit Garg MD
Division of Cardiology
Lehigh Valley Health Network, Allentown 

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

Response: Readmissions among advanced heart failure patients are common and contribute significantly to heath care related costs. Rates and causes of readmissions, and their associated costs among patients after durable left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implantation have not been studied in a contemporary multi-institutional setting. We studied the incidence, predictors, causes, and costs of 30-day readmissions after LVAD implantation using Nationwide Readmissions Database (NRD) in our recently published study.

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Going the Wrong Way: ACA’s Readmission Reduction Program Linked To Increased Heart Failure Deaths

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Ankur Gupta, MD, PhD Division of Cardiovascular Medicine Brigham and Women’s Hospital Heart & Vascular Center and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts

Dr. Ankur Gupta

Ankur Gupta, MD, PhD
Division of Cardiovascular Medicine
Brigham and Women’s Hospital Heart & Vascular Center and
Harvard Medical School,
Boston, Massachusetts 

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

Response: The Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP), established under the Affordable Care Act, aimed to reduce readmissions from various medical conditions including heart failure – the leading cause of readmissions among Medicare beneficiaries. The program financially penalizes hospitals with high readmission rates. However, there have been concerns of unintended consequences especially on mortality due to this program.

Using American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines-Heart Failure (GWTG-HF) data linked to Medicare data, we found that the policy of reducing readmissions after heart failure hospitalizations was associated with reduction in 30-day and 1-year readmissions yet an increase in 30-day and 1-year mortality.

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Penalties for Readmissions Widens Financial Losses At Delta Safety Net Hospitals

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Hsueh-Fen Chen, Ph.D. Associate Professor Department of Health Policy and Management College of Public Health University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Little Rock, AR 72205

Dr. Chen

Hsueh-Fen Chen, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Health Policy and Management
College of Public Health
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
Little Rock, AR 72205

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

Response: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP) and Hospital Value-based Purchasing (HVBP) Program in 2011 and implemented the two programs in 2013. These two programs financially motivate hospitals to reduce readmission rates and improve quality of care, efficiency, and patient experience. The Mississippi Delta Region is one of the most impoverished areas in the country, with a high proportion of minorities occupying in the region.  Additionally, these hospitals are  safety-net resources for the poor. It was largely unknown what the financial performance for the hospitals in the Mississippi Delta Region was under the HRRP and HVBP programs.

Dr. Chen and colleagues in the Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences compared the financial performance between Delta hospitals and non-Delta hospitals (namely, other hospitals in the nation) from 2008 through 2014 that were covered before and after the implementation of the HRRP and HVBP programs. The financial performance was measured by using the operating margin (profitability from patient care) and total margin (profitability from patient care and non-patient care)

Before the implementation of the HRRP and HVBP programs, Delta hospitals had weaker financial performance than non-Delta hospitals but their differences were not statistically significant. After the implementation of the HRRP and HVBP programs, the gap in financial performance between Delta and non-Delta hospitals became wider and significant. The unadjusted operating margin for Delta hospitals was about -4.0% in 2011 and continuously fell to -10.4% in 2014, while the unadjusted operating margin for non-Delta hospitals was about 0.1% in 2011 and dropped to -1.5% in 2014. The unadjusted total margin for Delta hospitals significantly fell from 3.6% in 2012 to 1.1% in 2013 and reached 0.2% in 2014, while the unadjusted total margin for non-Delta hospitals remained about 5.3% from 2012 through 2014. After adjusting hospital and community characteristics, the difference in financial performance between Delta and non-Delta remained significant.

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Financial Incentives to Physicians Did Not Increase Hospital Discharge Follow-Up Visits

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Lauren Lapointe-Shaw, MD Physician at University Health Network Department of Medicine University of Toronto 

Dr. Lapointe-Shaw

Dr. Lauren Lapointe-Shaw, MD
Physician at University Health Network
Department of Medicine
University of Toronto 

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

Response: Readmissions after hospital discharge are common and costly. We would like to reduce these as much as possible. Early physician follow-up post hospital discharge is one possible strategy to reduce readmissions. To this end, incentives to outpatient physicians for early follow-up have been introduced in the U.S. and Canada. We studied the effect of such an incentive, introduced to Ontario, Canada, in 2006.

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Hospital Readmissions Fell After Penalties Instituted But Then Plateaued

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Nihar R. Desai, MD, MPH

Assistant Professor of Medicine
Section of Cardiovascular Medicine, Yale School of Medicine
Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation
Yale New Haven Health System

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

Response: Reducing rates of readmissions after hospitalization has been a major focus for patients, providers, payers, and policymakers because they reflect, at least partially, the quality of care and care transitions, and account for substantial costs. The Hospital Readmission Reduction Program (HRRP) was enacted under Section 3025 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) in March 2010 and imposed financial penalties beginning in October 2012 for hospitals with higher than expected readmissions for acute myocardial infarction (AMI), congestive heart failure (HF), and pneumonia among their fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries. In recent years, readmission rates have fallen nationally, and for both target (AMI, HF, pneumonia) and non-target conditions.

We were interested in determining whether the Hospital Readmission Reduction Program (HRRP) associated with different changes in readmission rates for targeted and non-targeted conditions for penalized vs non-penalized hospitals?

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Significant Decline in Readmissions After PCI in Medicare Patients

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Christian A. McNeely, M.D. Resident Physician - Internal Medicine Barnes-Jewish Hospital Washington University Medical Center

Dr. Christian McNeely

Christian A. McNeely, M.D.
Resident Physician – Internal Medicine
Barnes-Jewish Hospital
Washington University Medical Center

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

Response: Prior research has demonstrated that readmission in the first 30 days after percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) is common, reported around one in six or seven Medicare beneficiaries, and that many are potentially preventable. Since 2000, there have been significant changes in the management of coronary artery disease and the use of PCI. Additionally, in the last decade, readmission rates have become a major focus of research, quality improvement and a public health issue, with multiple resulting national initiatives/programs which may be affecting care. Therefore, in this study, we sought to examine contemporary trends in readmission characteristics and associated outcomes of patients who underwent PCI using the Medicare database from 2000-2012.

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Clinical Interventions Reduced Hospital Readmissions After PCI Stent Surgery

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jason H. Wasfy, MD, MPhil Assistant Medical Director, Massachusetts General Physicians Organization Director of Quality and Analytics Massachusetts General Hospital Heart Center

Dr. Jason Wasfy

Jason H. Wasfy, MD, MPhil
Assistant Medical Director, Massachusetts General Physicians Organization
Director of Quality and Analytics
Massachusetts General Hospital Heart Center

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

Response: Reducing preventable readmissions after PCI is a way to both improve the quality of care for our patients and improve value for patients with coronary artery disease. Through a variety of tactics, we were able to reduce the 30 day readmission rate for patients after PCI by nearly half. Keep in mind that this is only the readmission rate to our hospital, so we will need to confirm these results with data including patients who may have been readmitted to other hospitals after a PCI at Mass General.

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Higher Mortality Risk in Older Patients Readmitted After Heart Failure

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Cherinne Arundel, MD
Washington DC VA Medical Center and
Phillip H. Lam, MD
Georgetown University Hospital/Washington Hospital Center,
Washington, DC

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

Drs. Arundel and Lam: Over 1 million Medicare beneficiaries are hospitalized every year for heart failure, and about a quarter of these patients are readmitted within 30 days of hospital discharge making heart failure the leading cause for 30-day all-cause readmissions among adults 65 years of age and older in the United States.

Such high numbers contribute to a significant portion of our healthcare cost, the reduction of which is a goal of the new healthcare law. In the current study, we examined the impact of readmission within 30 days of hospital discharge on patient outcomes and cost.

The main findings of our study show that older heart failure patients readmitted within 30 days of hospital discharge are at a significantly higher risk of death in the first year of follow-up when compared with those who were not readmitted. This high risk of death persisted during longer follow-up and was also associated with higher cost and longer hospital stay.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Drs. Arundel and Lam: Reducing readmission in hospitalized heart failure patients not only saves cost but also saves lives.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Drs. Arundel and Lam: Future studies need to develop and test interventions to prevent hospital admissions and subsequent readmissions in patients with heart failure.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Drs. Arundel and Lam: Future studies also need to examine the impact of a readmission within 30 days of hospital discharge in patients with other diseases such as diabetes, pneumonia, acute coronary artery disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Citation:

Association of 30-day All-cause Readmission with Long-term Outcomes in Hospitalized Older Medicare Beneficiaries with Heart Failure
Arundel, Cherinne et al.
The American Journal of Medicine , Volume 0 , Issue 0 ,
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.amjmed.2016.06.018

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

More Medical Research Interviews on MedicalResearch.com

Pharmacist-Led Program Reduced Hospital Readmissions Through Improved Medication Adherence

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jennifer Polinski, Senior Director Enterprise Evaluation and Population Health Analytics CVS Health Woonsocket, Rhode Island

Jennifer Polinski

Jennifer Polinski, Senior Director
Enterprise Evaluation and Population Health Analytics
CVS Health
Woonsocket, Rhode Island

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

Response: Unnecessary and often preventable hospital readmissions are a growing and costly issue. An estimated one in seven patients discharged from a hospital is readmitted within 30 days, and startlingly, readmissions are associated with more than $41 billion in additional health care costs per year. In addition, evidence suggests that approximately 66 percent of hospital readmissions are the result of adverse health events related to medication non-adherence.

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Black Heart Failure Patients Have More Readmissions and Lower Mortality Than Whites

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Matthew Durstenfeld MD
Department of Medicine
Saul Blecker, MD, MHS
Department of Population Health and Department of Medicine
New York University School of Medicine
NYU Langone Medical Center
New York, New York

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

Response: Racial and ethnic disparities continue to be a problem in cardiovascular disease outcomes. In heart failure, minority patients have more readmissions despite lower mortality after hospitalization for heart failure. Some authors have attributed these racial differences to differences in access to care, although this has never been proven.

Our study examined patients hospitalized within the municipal hospital system in New York City to see whether racial and ethnic disparities in readmissions and mortality were present among a diverse population with similar access to care. We found that black and Asian patients had lower one-year mortality than white patients; concurrently black and Hispanic patients had higher rates of readmission. These disparities persisted even after accounting for demographic and clinical differences among racial and ethnic groups.
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Hospitals In Better Financial Shape Do Not Necessarily Have Better Outcomes

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Oanh Kieu Nguyen, MD, MAS | Assistant Professor UT Southwestern Medical Center Divisions of General Internal Medicine and Outcomes and Health Services Research Dallas, TXOanh Kieu Nguyen, MD, MAS | Assistant Professor
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Divisions of General Internal Medicine and Outcomes and Health Services Research
Dallas, TX

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

Dr. Nguyen: The impetus for this study was Steven Brill’s 2013 Time magazine award-winning article, “Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us.” This report investigated inflated charges for hospital bills, and and suggested that a major driver of irrationally high charges was the disproportionate negotiating power of hospitals, as evidenced through their high profit margins. As hospital physicians, our reaction was “But what if hospitals that make more money are delivering more value and better outcomes to patients? If that’s the case, wouldn’t most people say that their profits justifiably earned?” Surprisingly, we found that no one had really looked at this issue in a systematic way.

We set out to answer this question using hospital financial data from California’s Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD) and outcomes data on 30-day readmissions and mortality for congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction (‘heart attacks’), and pneumonia from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Hospital Compare website. California has more hospitals than any other state other than Texas, and also has a wide diversity of hospital types. The OSHPD financial data are also audited, so we thought these would be more reliable than using data from other sources. Because the outcomes reported on Hospital Compare are viewable by the general public, we thought hospitals would be most motivated to target improvements in these outcomes.

We found that there was almost no association between how much money a hospital made and its subsequent performance on outcomes. The exception to this was we found that hospitals that had better finances reported higher rates of 30-day mortality for congestive heart failure, which was counterintuitive. We’re not sure why this was the case but speculate that it is possible that hospitals with better finances take care of sicker heart failure patients because they have more advanced (and more expensive) treatments available.

Additionally, we looked to see if hospitals with lower readmissions rates subsequently made less money. This is a specific area of policy concern given federal penalties in the U.S. for excessive hospital readmissions. Many critics of these penalties have argued that reducing readmissions makes no financial sense for hospitals, since readmissions still generate hospital revenue despite the penalties. Thus, reducing readmissions would reduce a key source of hospital revenue and lead to poorer hospital finances. However, our analysis showed that lower readmissions rates were not associated with poorer hospital finances, as has been feared.  Continue reading

RATHRR Scale Predicts Readmission After Total Hip Replacement Risk

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Chairman and Surgeon-in-Chief Department of Surgery Saint Barnabas Medical Center Professor of Surgery New Jersey Medical School Rutgers University

Dr. Ronald Chamberlain

Ronald S. Chamberlain, MD, MPA, FACS
Chairman and Surgeon-in-Chief
Department of Surgery
Saint Barnabas Medical Center
Professor of Surgery
New Jersey Medical School
Rutgers University

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

Dr. Chamberlain:  With the rapidly growing arthritic, aging, and obese population, total hip replacement (THR) has become the most commonly performed orthopedic procedure in the United States (US).  The Affordable Care Act signed by President Barack Obama imposed financial penalties for excess readmissions following certain procedures and diagnoses. While the initial program aimed to reduce readmissions for heart failure, pneumonia, and acute myocardial infarction (AMI), the program expanded to include THR in 2015. With current research estimating a 10%, 30-day readmission rate following a total or partial hip replacement, this study sought to identify factors associated with readmission and to create a scale which could reliably stratify preoperative readmission risk.

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Only about 25% of Hospital Readmissions are Preventable

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Andrew Auerbach MD Professor of Medicine in Residence Director of Research Division of Hospital Medicine UCSF

Dr. Andrew Auerbach

Dr. Andrew Auerbach MD
Professor of Medicine in Residence
Director of Research Division of Hospital Medicine
UCSF and

Jeffrey L. Schnipper, MD, MPH Associate Physician, Brigham and Women's Hospital Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School Department of Medicine Brigham and Women's Hospital

Dr. Jeffrey Scnhipper

Jeffrey L. Schnipper, MD, MPH
Associate Physician, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Department of Medicine
Brigham and Women’s Hospital

 

 

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

Response: The Affordable Care Act required the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a program to reduce what has been dubbed a “revolving door of re-hospitalizations.” Effective October 2012, 1 percent of every Medicare payment was deducted for a hospital that was determined to have excessive readmissions. This percentage has subsequently increased to up to 3 percent. Penalties apply to readmitted Medicare patients with some heart conditions, pneumonia, chronic lung disease, and hip and knee replacements.

Unfortunately, few data exist to guide us in determining how many readmissions are preventable, and in those cases how they might have been prevented.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: Our main findings were that 27 percent of readmissions were preventable, and that the most common contributors to readmission were being discharged too soon, poor coordination between inpatient and outpatient care providers, particularly in the Emergency Departments and in arranging post acute care.

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Heart Failure Readmission Risk Related To Patient and Disease Characteristics

Javed Butler MD MPH Chief, Division of Cardiology Stony Brook University Health Sciences Center SUNY at Stony Brook, NY

Dr. Javed Butler

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Javed Butler MD MPH

Chief, Division of Cardiology
Stony Brook University
Health Sciences Center
SUNY at Stony Brook, NY

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

Dr. Butler: There is a lot of emphasis on reducing the risk of readmission after heart failure hospitalization. The main focus is on early readmissions as the risk for readmission is highest earlier post discharge. In this study, we described the fact that certainly there is some increased risk post discharge, the majority of the risk is actually dependent on the patient and disease characteristics at the time of discharge as opposed to true reduction in risk over time, which is partially related to differential attrition of high risk patients earlier post discharge.

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Five Risk Factors for 30-day Mortality in Patients With Pneumonia

Yuichiro Shindo, M.D., Ph.D. Visiting Researcher Department of Anesthesiology Washington University School of Medicine St. Louis, MO Assistant Professor Institute for Advanced Research, Nagoya University, Department of Respiratory Medicine, Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine Showa-ku, Nagoya Japan

Dr. Yuichiro Shindo

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Yuichiro Shindo, M.D., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Institute for Advanced Research, Nagoya University,
Department of Respiratory Medicine, Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine
Showa-ku, Nagoya Japan

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

Dr. Shindo: Appropriate initial antibiotic treatment is essential for the treatment of pneumonia.  However, many patients may develop adverse outcomes, even if they receive appropriate initial antibiotics.  To our knowledge, there have been no studies that clearly demonstrated the risk factors in patients who receive appropriate antibiotic treatment.  If these factors are clarified, we can identify those patients with pneumonia for whom adjunctive therapy other than antibiotic treatment can prove beneficial in terms of improved outcomes.  This study aimed to clarify the risk factors for 30-day mortality in patients who received appropriate initial antibiotic treatment and elucidate potential candidates for adjunctive therapy.

In this study, the 30-day mortality in 579 pneumonia patients who received appropriate initial antibiotics was 10.5%.  The independent risk factors included albumin < 3.0 mg/dL, nonambulatory status, pH < 7.35, respiration rate ≥ 30/min, and blood urea nitrogen ≥ 20 mg/dL.  The 30-day mortality for the number of risk factors was 0.8% (0), 1.2% (1), 16.8% (2), 22.5% (3), and 43.8% (4–5).

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Hospitals with Sicker, Socially Disadvantaged Patients Penalized For Patients They Serve

J. Michael McWilliams MD, PhD Associate Professor andMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
J. Michael McWilliams MD, PhD
Associate Professor and
Dr. Michael Barnett MD Researcher and General Medicine Fellow Dept. of Health Care Policy Harvard Medical School Boston MADr. Michael Barnett MD
Researcher and General Medicine Fellow
Dept. of Health Care Policy
Harvard Medical School
Boston MA

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Response: The financial impact of Medicare’s Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program on hospitals is growing.  In this year’s round of penalties, nearly 2,600 hospitals were collectively fined $420 million for excess readmissions. There has been concern that the risk-adjustment methods used by Medicare to calculate a hospital’s expected readmission rate is inadequate, meaning that hospitals disproportionately serving sicker and more disadvantaged patients are being penalized because of the populations they serve rather than their quality of care.  Specifically, Medicare accounts only for some diagnoses, age and sex but no other clinical or social characteristics of patients admitted to the hospital.

No study to date has examined the impact adjusting for a comprehensive set of clinical and social factors on differences in readmission rates between hospitals. We did this by using detailed survey data from the Health and Retirement Study linked to information on admissions and readmissions in survey participants’ Medicare claims data.  We then compared differences in readmission rates between patients admitted to hospitals in the highest vs. lowest quintile of publicly reported readmission rates, before vs. after adjusting for a rich set of patient characteristics.  These included self-reported health, functional status, cognition, depressive symptoms, household income and assets, race and ethnicity, educational attainment, and social supports.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Response: Our two most important findings were:

1) Patients admitted to hospitals with higher readmission rates are sicker and more socially disadvantaged in a variety of ways than patients admitted to hospitals with lower readmission rates.

2) After adjusting for all measurable patient factors that are not accounted for in standard Medicare adjustments, the difference in readmission rates between hospitals with high vs. low readmission rates fell by nearly 50%.

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Anxious, Frequent ER Users At Greater Risk of Readmission After Angioplasty

Jason H. Wasfy, MD Assistant Medical Director Massachusetts General Physicians Organization Massachusetts General Hospital
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jason H. Wasfy, MD
Assistant Medical Director
Massachusetts General Physicians Organization
Massachusetts General Hospital

 

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

Dr. Wasfy: Hospital readmission after angioplasty (heart stents) is very common in the United States and is associated with poorer patient outcomes and substantial health care costs.  We can predict which patients will get readmitted, but only with moderate accuracy.  Analyzing the electronic medical records of large health care systems may provide clues about how to predict readmissions more accurately.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Wasfy: Patients who are anxious or have visited the emergency department frequently before the procedure may be at higher risk of readmission.  For those patients, reassurance and support may help them stay out of the hospital.  This has the potential to improve health outcomes after angioplasty and improve value in cardiology care generally.  High quality care for patients with coronary artery disease involves not only procedures and medicines, but also creating a support system for patients to cope with their disease.

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Without Insurance Data, Hospitals Don’t Know Their True Readmission Rate

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Alisa Khan, MD
Pediatric hospitalist
Boston Children’s Hospital and Instructor of Pediatrics
Harvard Medical School

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Khan: Patients can be readmitted to the same hospital they were discharged from or to a different hospital.  In adults, readmissions to different hospitals make up about 20% of all readmissions.  We don’t know a lot about how often different-hospital readmissions happen in children.

Insurance companies know hospitals’ true readmission rates (which include when a hospital’s patients are readmitted to the same hospital and when they are readmitted to a different hospital).  However, hospitals don’t know their true readmission rates since they don’t have access to the full information that insurance companies have.

If hospitals don’t know their true rates, they may think they are doing better at preventing readmissions than they really (for instance, if all their discharged patients are simply being readmitted to a different hospital).  Hospitals may also draw incorrect conclusions when they compare themselves to one another (like through benchmarking), and may not be able to predict whether they will be subject to penalties by insurers for having excessively high readmission rates.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Dr. Khan: We found that about 1 in 7 pediatric readmissions in New York over a 5-year period were to a different hospital than the hospital the patient was discharged from.   The percentage of different-hospital readmissions varied by hospital and patient characteristics.  Patients who were admitted to non-children’s hospitals, lower-volume hospitals, or urban hospitals had a higher chance of being readmitted to a different hospital, as did patients who were younger, white, privately insured, or who had certain chronic conditions (like mental health, neurologic, and circulatory conditions).

We also found a lot of variability in how much individual hospitals would underestimate their true readmission rates if they only used this incomplete same-hospital readmission info.  Some hospitals would underestimate their true readmission rates by only 0.6 relative percentage points while others would underestimate them by 68 points.

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Frequent Emergency Department Users More Likely To Die Or Be Admitted

dr-brian-roweMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Brian Rowe, MD, MSc, CCFP(EM), FCCP
Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine
University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Rowe: Frequent users are also called “familiar faces” or “heavy users” and they represent an important sub-group of patients in the emergency setting, with often complex needs that contribute to overcrowding and excess health care costs. The evidence suggests that frequent users account for up to one in 12 patients seeking emergency care, and for around one in four of all visits.

MedicalResearch: What are the main findings?

Dr. Rowe: Frequent users of emergency department care are more than twice as likely to die, be admitted to hospital, or require other outpatient treatment as infrequent users, concludes an analysis of the available evidence, published in Emergency Medicine Journal.

These conclusions are based on a thorough search of seven electronic databases of relevant research relating to the frequency and outcomes of emergency department use by adults. Out of a total of more than 4000 potential studies, 31 relevant research reports published between 1990 and 2013 were included in the final analysis. Frequent users were variably defined as visiting emergency care departments from four or more times up to 20 times a year.

Among the seven studies looking at deaths, the analysis showed that frequent attenders at emergency care departments were more than twice as likely to die as those who rarely sought emergency care. Most of the studies included hospital admission as an outcome, and these showed that frequent users were around 2.5 times as likely to be admitted as infrequent users. Ten studies looked at use of other hospital outpatient care, and these showed that frequent users were more than 2.5 times as likely to require at least one outpatient clinic after their visit to the emergency care department.

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Readmissions After Hip or Knee Replacement Are Costly

Dr. Joseph Bosco MD Orthopedic Surgery The New York University Langone Medical CenterMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Joseph Bosco MD III
Orthopedic Surgery
The New York University Langone Medical Center

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Bosco: NYU Langone’s Hospital for Joint Diseases was one of the first institutions selected to participate in a Bundled Payment Care Initiative for total joint patients. For this three-year pilot program, the hospital is given an initial payment by Medicare that covers costs accrued 72 hours prior to admission, the inpatient stay, post-acute care, and any additional costs incurred up to 90-days following discharge, including readmissions.

The goal of the initiative, from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is to improve cost transparency and lower the cost of Medicare by bundling payments for quality of care, rather than quantity of procedures ordered. Hospitals are penalized if the patient returns and there are any complications.

We studied the costs of readmissions for surgical and medical complications within a 90-day episode of care for Bundled Payment Care Initiative patients receiving total knee arthroplasty (TKA) and total hip arthroplasty (THA).

Identifying the causes for readmission and assessing the costs of those readmissions will guide quality improvement.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Dr. Bosco: There were 721 total patients who underwent these procedures during the time period of the study. 80, or 11 percent, were readmitted within 90-days. These complications for readmitted patients included infection (11), wound complications (8), bleeding (7), periprosthetic fracture (5), dislocations (4), and post-surgical pain (4), with an average cost of $36,038 (range $6,375-$60,137) for THA and $61,049 (range $26,740-$186,069) for total knee arthroplasty. When two outliers of greater than $100,000 are eliminated, the average cost of a surgical TKA readmission was $32,922 (range $26,740-$40,774).

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Bosco: You want to prevent any readmissions as much as possible and come up with a course ahead of time of what patient should expect before and after an operation, and what patient should do in the event they’re experiencing a complication.

Physicians and health care facilities should develop protocols to prevent readmissions and manage their patients’ expectations. For any issues, patients should be told to call the office emergency line or a physician’s cell phone, and not go to emergency room or call 9-11. Many of these readmissions can be prevented, and often emergency room clinicians may not be aware of how to best manage the complications.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Bosco: Going forward, knowing what the causes are for readmission and what the financial implications are from these cases will help hospitals better assess a patient’s risk preoperatively. Physicians can better control any of a patient’s medical comorbidities in order to prevent complications post-operatively, and readmissions.

Citation:

AAOS 2015 abstract:

Cost Analysis of Total Joint Arthroplasty Readmissions in a Bundled Payment Care Initiative

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Joseph Bosco MD III (2015). Readmissions After Hip or Knee Replacement Are Costly 

Mental Health Issues Increase Hospital Readmissions

Brian K. Ahmedani, PhD, LMSW Research Scientist Henry Ford Health System Center for Health Policy & Health Services Research Detroit, MI 48202MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Brian K. Ahmedani, PhD, LMSW
Research Scientist
Henry Ford Health System
Center for Health Policy & Health Services Research
Detroit, MI 48202

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

Dr. Ahmedani: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have begun penalizing hospitals for excessive all-cause hospital readmissions within 30 days after discharge for pneumonia, heart failure, and myocardial infarction.  We wanted to determine the influence of comorbid mental health and substance use conditions on the rate of 30-day hospital readmissions for individuals with these conditions.  Overall, individuals with a comorbid mental health condition were readmitted to the hospital within 30-days approximately 5% more often than those without one (21.7% versus 16.5%).  Comorbid depression and anxiety were associated with a 30-day readmission rate of more than 23% each, overall.

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