Hospitals are beginning to feel the sting of new fines based on higher readmission rates. Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow finds out what health institutions are doing to make sure patients don’t make an untimely return to the hospital.
Medical officials have a renewed focus on preventing patients from returning to a hospital shortly after treatment. The effort to cut down on readmission rates is due to a penalty enforced by the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
The penalty only applies to patients who return within 30 days of discharge after being treated for heart attack, heart failure or pneumonia. If those rates are too high, hospitals lose a portion of Medicare reimbursement.
John Palmer is a spokesperson for the Ohio Hospital Association, which is tracking best practices around the state. He says educating the patients and their families about their condition proves to be a key component.
There’s a certain amount of personal responsibility on the patients’ behalf when it comes to readmission. That’s why, as Palmer explains, hospitals are doing more to engage with the community.
“That’s what we’re looking at is hospitals, especially in rural areas and even urban areas, you know, the proximity for the hospitals and other care organizations and care providers, and are we engaging them appropriately and effectively in ensuring that they’re connected with their patients and making sure that they have accessibility to the patients as they’re in this recovery," Palmer said.
The penalty has been in effect for about a year and Palmer says hospitals continue to grow a better understanding of readmission rates and what makes patients come back too soon.