CMS: Hospital readmission rate drop nationwide

Accreditation Insider, September 20, 2016

Want to receive articles like this one in your inbox? Subscribe to Accreditation Insider!

Between 2010 and 2015, hospital readmission rates have dropped an average of 8% nationally, with 100,000 unnecessary patient readmissions avoided in 2015 alone. CMS reported the news on its blog, stating that 49 states and the District of Columbia have seen reductions in avoidable 30-day readmissions of Medicare patients over the past five years.

Readmissions reduction has been a major goal for CMS, with an estimated $17 billion in Medicare spending spent annually on avoidable hospital readmissions.  The agency also announced that it would be increasing its fines for high readmission rates in fiscal 2017. While hospitals may look to this new data as a sign of hope, a study in The New England Journal of Medicine  cautions that the continuing the drop may not be possible.

"Presumably, hospitals made substantial changes during the study period but could not sustain such a high rate of reductions in the long term," the authors wrote.

Patrick Conway, MD, chief medical officer of CMS, and Tim Gronniger, CMS deputy chief of staff, wrote that the creation of the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP) in 2010 was a major boon in fighting preventable readmissions. They also pointed to other initiatives such as the Accountable Care Organizations and Hospital Engagement Networks as having a role.

Vermont was the only state to see an increase in readmissions at just 0.7%. The most noticeable improvements were in New Jersey, Hawaii, and Illinois, which reduced their readmission rates by 13.3%, 13.4%, and 12.1% respectively. In fact, 43 states cut their readmission rates by over 5% and 11 states cut theirs by over 10%.

Readmission rates and their use as a quality survey metric has been decisive, from groups arguing that socioeconomic factors should be considered to a new study that shows that readmissions can save lives.

Want to receive articles like this one in your inbox? Subscribe to Accreditation Insider!

Most Popular