Wisconsin hospitals reduce readmissions by 22 percent, save $34M

Wisconsin hospitals cut healthcare costs by more than $45 million through a special project aimed at reducing readmissions and controlling surgery-related infections, according to a new report from the Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA).

The Partners for Patients initiative, currently in its second year, is a collaborative effort between the WHA and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to reduce costs and improve quality of care, according to the report. While the WHA's report does not include costs or savings for specific hospitals, the 108 hospitals involved in the program cut surgical site infections (SSIs) by 37 percent between January 2012 and July 2013.  

Readmission reduction saw an even greater improvement, with the prevention of 3,556 readmissions saving hospitals $34 million. "Readmissions account for one of the largest opportunities to drive unnecessary cost out of the healthcare system," the report states. "An average readmission costs $9,600. Wisconsin hospitals have successfully reduced readmissions by 22 percent, exceeding the CMS goal of 20 percent." As a result, the report states, in the second year of readmission penalties, CMS will not penalize 63 percent of eligible Wisconsin hospitals and no hospital in the state will receive a penalty greater than 1 percent.

"When improvement work reduces hospital-associated infections and readmissions, it translates into cost savings, and that is a value for patients, employers and insurers," wrote WHA President Steve Brenton.

In addition to the positive news on readmissions and SSIs, the report states that:

  • Patient falls are down 26 percent and care is safer for 176 patients, resulting in savings of $429,750 between 2012 and 2013;

  • Early elective deliveries are down 78 percent, improving safety for 291 infants and saving $211,922 between 2012 and 2013; and

  • Wisconsin is ranked third for average net incentive/penalty payments under Medicare's Value-Based Purchasing Program.

Readmissions for Medicare patients are on the decline nationwide as well. After flatlining between 2007 and 2011, they fell to 18.4 percent in 2012 and below 18 percent in 2013, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

To learn more:
- read the report (.pdf)