Hospitals fail to use readmission best practices

Despite the national focus on readmissions rates, most hospitals infrequently utilize recommended strategies to reduce readmission risk for patients with heart failure or acute myocardial infarction, according to a new Commonwealth Fund-supported study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Researchers surveyed more than 500 hospitals in which 90 percent of them have a written objective to reduce readmissions for heart patients. However, hospitals implemented, on average, only about five of 10 practices recommended for reducing readmissions; less than 3 percent had utilized all 10 practices, according to the study abstract.

Moreover, the study showed that fewer than half of the hospitals coordinated with community physicians or physician groups (49.3 percent) and other hospitals (23.5 percent) to curb readmissions related to heart problems.

A majority of the hospitals also failed to implement recommended discharge and follow-up strategies, such as having a process to notify outpatient physicians within 48 hours of a patient's discharge (37.3 percent) or a procedure to follow up on test results post-discharge (35.8 percent), according to the study.

Given the findings, enhancing care coordination and communication among providers and standardizing practices for reducing readmissions could help hospitals keep heart patients from bouncing back to their facilities.

To learn more:
- here's the study abstract
- check out the full study