Report finds little change in readmission rates between 2004 and 2009

Thirty day readmission rates have improved little between the years 2004 and 2009, and have increased for certain conditions and regions across the country, according to a Dartmouth Atlas report.

The report examined 30 day readmission data for Medicare data for patients across the country. 

Key findings: 

  • There was marked regional variation for 30 day readmission rates for medical conditions, ranging from 11.5% in Ogden, Utah, to 18.9% in Pontiac Michigan.
  • There was also geographical variation for surgical 30 day readmissions, ranging from 7.5% in Rapid City, S. Dakota, to 19% in the Bronx in NYC.
  • Regions with high readmission rates for one condition generally had high readmission rates across all conditions.
  • There was little change in readmission rates across both medical and surgical conditions from 2004 – 2009, with only 11 out of 306 regions decreasing their medical readmission rate, and 28 out of 306 regions decreasing their surgical readmission rate.
  • More than half of the patients discharged in the study did not see a primary care physician within two weeks after discharge. 

The study concludes that coordination of care and patient follow up are key to reducing hospital readmissions. 

(Sources: AHA News Now, http://ahanews.com, September 28, 2011, Dartmouth Atlas, http://www.dartmouthatlas.org, September 2011)