Less Time in Hospital Correlated to More Readmissions

We all want to get out of the hospital as quickly as possible.  A recent study from JAMA that appeared in the WSJ showed that while days in the hospital dropped from 8.6 days in ’93-’94 to 6.4 days in ’05-’06 the readmission rate (within 30 days) went up from 17.3% to 20.1%.  I’d love to see the economics around this. 

  • Do the hospitals make more money in this case? 
  • Do the plans save more money? 
  • Are patients happier?  [Remember that the majority of them got out sooner.]

“From a societal point of view, dollars spent on health care likely increased.”  Harlan Krumholz, Yale University cardiologist and senior author of the study. 

The study author echos a point that we [Silverlink] often make to our clients which is that hospitals (or payers) need to invest more effort and resources to make sure the transition to outpatient status in seamless.  Do they understand what the doctor’s instructions were?  Do they have someone caring for them?  Did they pick up their medications?

Another key lesson learned here is that it’s important to measure what matters and that what’s measured gets improved.

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