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Socio-Economic Factors Again Tied to Hospital Readmissions

Another study has linked socio-economic factors to increased hospital readmissions.

This latest study, published in the Journal for Healthcare Quality, found that

… meaningful risk-adjusted readmission rates can be tracked in a dynamic database. The clinical conditions responsible for the index admission were the strongest predictive factor of readmissions, but factors such as age and accompanying comorbid conditions were also important. Socioeconomic factors, such as race, income, and payer status, also showed strong statistical significance in predicting readmissions.

Conclusions: Payment models that are based on stratified comparisons might result in a more equitable payment system while at the same time providing transparency regarding disparities based on these factors. No model, yet available, discriminates potentially modifiable readmissions from those not subject to intervention highlighting the fact that the optimum readmission rate for any given condition is yet to be identified.

iStock_000001497717XSmallThe study found that low-income patients are more likely to require readmission to the hospital than those with higher incomes and hospitals that serve higher proportions of low-income patients are more likely to incur Medicare penalties for readmissions than other hospitals.

NAUH has long made the same argument: that socio-economic considerations make the patients urban safety-net hospitals serve far more likely to require readmission to the hospital than is the case with other hospitals. This, NAUH maintains, makes Medicare’s hospital readmissions reduction program unfair to urban safety-net hospitals. NAUH most recently expressed this view in a February 2016 letter to the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and the chairman of that committee’s Health Subcommittee. See that letter here.

To learn more about the study, how it was conducted, and what it found, find the study “Patient Factors Predictive of Hospital Readmissions Within 30 Days” here, on the web site of the Journal for Healthcare Quality.

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