NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 13, 2007

A few hospitals are striving for health care's Holy Grail: reducing costs while improving care by keeping chronically ill patients from being re-admitted after treatment, says the Wall Street Journal.

For example:

  • Close to one-fifth of Medicare patients are readmitted to hospitals within 30 days of discharge.
  • Those patients account for $15 billion in spending, according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission.
  • But beyond money, readmissions can also be a mental strain on patients and their families.

As a result, new hospital programs are aiming to lower readmissions by doing such things as identifying patients at risk for return, scheduling follow-ups, checking on patients at home and educating patients and families on how adhere to medication requirements.

"We have to start paying attention to people's needs beyond the hospital door," says Mary Naylor, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Nursing.  She adds: "The experience of multiple hospitalizations can take a devastating toll on the human psyche and the quality of life for patients and their caregivers."

Source: Joe Mantone, "Slowing Hospitals' Revolving Door," Wall Street Journal, December 12, 2007.

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