Highmark P4P program requires hospitals to lower readmissions

Highmark wants to reduce hospital readmissions to help chip away at the $25 billion they cost the healthcare system.

The Pittsburgh-based insurer requires hospitals participating in its pay-for-performance program, called Quality Blue, to track readmissions that occur within 30 days of discharge, the Pittsburgh Business Times reported.

Highmark also wants the Quality Blue participating hospitals to take steps toward reducing those readmissions, including improving patient discharge procedures and follow-up care, Central Penn Business Journal reported.

"Having increased attention on the preventable root causes of readmissions should help to improve the quality of care provided to our members and reduce healthcare costs," Linda Weiland, Highmark's vice president of provider network innovations and partnerships, said in a statement.

There were 185,190 preventable readmissions in Pennsylvania alone during 2010, amounting to about 12 percent of all readmissions. Chronic conditions, such as congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, have even higher readmission rates.

To learn more:
- read the Pittsburgh Business Times article
- check out the Central Penn Business Journal article
- see the Highmark statement