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Study: Medicare readmissions-cut goal looks too optimistic

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A study in JAMA Internal Medicine says that Medicare’s goal of reducing all hospitals readmissions by 20 percent “may be overambitious.”

Yale researchers developed a readmission-reduction program and tested it on 10,000 older patients with Medicare fee-for-service insurance and recently discharged from an urban hospital but with a high-risk for readmission. The program  included such interventions as personalized transition support, education, follow-up telephone calls and connections to community resources such as social workers.

The  researchers compared their  readmission rate to the same hospital within 30 days to a that of control group of adults older than 54 but who didn’t have Medicare fee-for-service insurance and who were  seen as having a lower risk of readmissions.

The new intervention program  only cut  readmissions by 9 percent. “Our analysis revealed a fairly consistent and sustained but small, beneficial effect of the intervention on the target population as a whole,” the researchers wrote.

The study came after research  last month in JAMA Internal Medicine that found hospitals could have prevented more than a quarter of readmissions of discharged Medicare patients within 30 days.

So at least part of the jury is out on how successful readmissions-reduction programs can be.




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