KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Health Care Quality: Hospital Readmission Rates, Innovations In Patient Care

Modern Healthcare reports on new research that raises questions about the relationship between shorter hospital stays and higher hospital readmission rates.

Modern Healthcare: Shorter Hospital Stays Don't Necessarily Mean Higher Readmissions: Study
Hospitals that have grappled with how best to curb length of stay while also preventing readmissions may find comfort in a new study that suggests that a drop in the former does not necessarily mean a greater number of the latter. Using 14 years of data from 129 Veterans Affairs hospitals, researchers concluded that an overall reduction in risk-adjusted length of stay was not associated with a corresponding spike in 30-day readmission rates, according to the VA-funded study, published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine. From 1997-2010, overall length of stay for the five conditions examined fell nearly 27%, to 3.98 days from 5.44 days. Meanwhile, 30-day readmission rates for those conditions, including heart failure and heart attack, fell to 13.8% from 16.5% (McKinney, 12/17).

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal explores innovations that are improving patient care and outcomes, while also lowering costs -

The Wall Street Journal's The Informed Patient: Ten Ways Patients Get Treated Better
Even healthy people worry about the quality of care they can expect to receive when they become ill. Will a cancerous tumor be spotted early enough? Will hospital staff move fast enough to save my life? What is the worried-looking doctor scribbling in my chart? Health-care innovations aren't limited to drugs and devices. Experts increasingly are adopting new ways to treat patients that studies show are better at healing the sick, preventing disease, improving patients' quality of life and lowering costs (Landro, 12/17).

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