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Study Shows PA Hospitals Saved $700 Million By Lowering Readmission Rates

Hospital readmission rates for Pennsylvanians suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure are down.

A new report from the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PH4C) showed that those patients did not have to return to the hospital as frequently from January 2013 through August 2014. It’s part of a downward trend in the last few years, PH4C reported.

The report also looked at readmission rates for people with abnormal heartbeats and diabetes and found that the rates for those conditions remained the same.

“The results of this report are evidence that hospitals are … putting in place the appropriate procedures, the best practices (and) evidence-based medicine to improve care,” said Martin Ciccocioppo, vice president for research at the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania.

A readmission occurs when a patient is admitted to a hospital within 30 days of their original discharge. According to Ciccocioppo, the report counted a readmission whether the patient is readmitted for the same condition as the original visit.

According to HAP, Pennsylvania hospitals reduced readmissions by 26 percent – more than its original goal – and “hospital acquired conditions,” which can include a number of negative byproducts of a hospital stay like infections and accidental falls by 36 percent over the last year. An estimated $694 million was saved due to costs that were avoided by better health care practices.

The report showed that area hospitals saw some of their most substantial improvements in the treatment of sepsis, a complication of infection that can be life-threatening. From 2009 to 2014, the number of sepsis cases treated by hospitals in Pennsylvania increased nearly 95 percent and the mortality rate fell more than one-third, from 17.7 percent to 11 percent during that same period.

Despite the positive readmission numbers, the report showed that heart attack patients saw a statistically significant increase in mortality.

Ciccocioppo said it’s unlikely to ever reach a zero-percent mortality rate for every type of illness, but hospitals can do a better job of ensuring patients are in the right setting for the care they need and recognizing when a patient needs hospice care.

Ciccocioppo wasn’t able to definitively say how Pennsylvania compares with hospitals in the rest of the country, since PHC4’s way of looking at data is different than the national standard, but said anecdotally that Pennsylvania seems to be doing well.