Life Sciences

Medication management at discharge takes back seat

Medicare & Reimbursement Advisor Weekly, September 25, 2009

Health plans won’t love this: St. Joseph’s Hospital in Atlanta tracks readmissions, and since implementing a more aggressive length-of-stay policy, many patients leave the hospital without adequate education, preparation, and follow-up to manage their medications and post-discharge care. Adherence is a challenge. In the graph below, we illustrate the percent of readmissions in which patients return to the hospital within one month of discharge. The red line shows that about 10%–14% of all Medicare readmissions are within 30 days, whereas Medicare patient readmissions for congestive heart failure (CHF) are less predictable. However, Anne Pedersen, RN, case management director at St. Joseph’s, says there has been an upswing in CHF and lung-related (i.e., COPD) 30-day readmissions since the spring, as the hospital tries to reduce its inpatient lengths of stay. For a study abstract, contact the editor; the complete study will be published in early 2010.