Reducing hospital readmissions could lower the cost of care

Reducing hospital readmission rates can greatly lower health care spending.

The rising cost of healthcare has wide-reaching effects for Americans. As many face spending an even greater percentage of their income on medical costs in 2015, both consumer and patient advocacy groups are on the lookout for means of reducing the financial burden on families. 

After performing a survey of 300 health care quality professionals, ASQ, a quality standard reporting firm, found that reducing readmission rates should be a top priority for healthcare organizations seeking to manage costs. 

The Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services began penalizing hospitals for 30-day readmissions in 2012, then doubled that penally in 2014. According to data from the Healthcare cost utilization Project, the average cost of pneumonia readmission is $13,000, 135 percent the cost of an initial pneumonia admission. 

Although the source reports that all-cause readmission have been declining since 2013, greater attention is needed to find new and innovative ways for reducing readmission rates. 

Big Data analytics have helped to some extent in this regard, and as electronic health records continue to gain wide acceptance, the information they hold could eventually provide insight on lowering rates. For example, one study by Health Services Research have found that pressure ulcer statistics can help predict whether a nursing home will readmit residents to the hospital. 

As more powerful analytics become available, providers could soon learn more effective warning signs that speak to a patient's likelihood of being readmitted. However, the process of building the data libraries necessary to provide these findings could take some time. If your facility is currently struggling with healthcare revenue cycle management, then the decision to outsource receivables management could result in a decrease in the dollars written off to bad debt as well as a more manageable claims load per collector.