Hospitals Look to Home Care In Cutting Patient Readmissions

Medicare will begin penalizing 2,211 hospitals in October for having too many counts of patient readmissions, and some hospitals are looking to home health care as a solution to the readmission problem. 

Severity of the Medicare penalties is based on the number of the readmissions for Medicare heart failure, heart attack and pneumonia patients between July 2008 and June 2011. While the maximum penalty  a hospital can receive is 1% per submitted claim, 1,933  hospitals will experience sub-maximum penalties, according to analysis of Medicare data conducted by Kaiser Health News. 

Medicare plans to continue penalizing hospitals for unacceptable numbers of readmissions by increasing the maximum percentage of claims reimbursements it will penalize to 3% by 2014, according to the rule

In published comments by hospitals across the country, some believe Medicare is enforcing too much oversight in the penalties. Other hospitals, however, are taking the opportunity to smooth the transition between hospital and home care.

“We are looking at better handoffs to home care, skilled nursing facilities, better discharge preparation of patient families and using home care as an avenue to really track them. Because it’s the right thing to do, truly,” Coy Smith, vice president for patient-care services and chief nursing officer of Delaware’s St Francis Hospital told WHHY News

Home care agencies can help in preventing hospital readmissions, told Kelly Court, chief quality officer at the Wisconsin Hospital Association to Wisconsin Public Radio’s Shamane Mills. 

“Hospitals can only do so much to prevent the readmission, like [making] sure patients understand their discharge instructions, understand their medications, make a good transition to a physician after the patient leaves the hospital,” Court told Mills. 

 Written by Erin Hegarty

Erin Hegarty