Readmission reduction: Intervention helps lower rates but doesn't meet national goals

Medicare's goal of reducing all readmissions by 20 percent "may be overambitious," according to a new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Yale researchers developed a readmission reduction program and tested it on 10,000 older patients, who had Medicare fee-for-service insurance and were recently discharged from an urban medical center but were at high-risk for readmission. The program offered interventions, including personalized transition support, education, follow-up telephone calls and connections to community resources.

The study team then compared their rate of readmission to the same hospital within 30 days to a control group of adults older than 54 but who didn't have Medicare fee-for-service insurance and were at lower risk of readmissions.

The interventions had modest success as it 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 authors wrote in the report.

However, it did not achieve Medicare's goal of reducing readmissions by 20 percent--a target that researchers believe "may be overambitious" based on the findings of the study.

The study findings come in the wake of research published 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. That research called on hospitals to take steps to improve communication with patients and between primary care and hospital physicians, better assessment on whether patients are ready for discharge and improved post-discharge resources.

To learn more:
- here's the study abstract