Local Hospital Readmissions Lower than U.S. Rate

The Dallas and Fort Worth Medicare referral regions have lower hospital readmission rates than the national average, according to a new Medicare Chronic Conditions Dashboard.

The Fort Worth region rate of 30-day readmissions was 93 percent of the national rate while the Dallas region was at 98 percent of the U.S. rate. The Dallas region was at exactly the national rate on emergency-department visits while the Fort Worth region was 11 percent higher. In terms of cost of care for Medicare recipients, both local regions were about 20 percent above the national average.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) created the dashboard to make data more accessible for those tracking Medicare costs.

Acting CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said in a news release that the dashboard focuses on the “more than two thirds of Medicare patients (who) have multiple chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, and that number will rise with an aging population.”

HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Howard Koh, said in the news release that the website “provides new and critical data that can help us develop better patient-centered approaches to improve health outcomes, lower costs, and maximize quality of life.”

According to CMS, spending for Medicare beneficiaries with two or more chronic conditions was about $276 billion in 2011, which comprised about 93 percent of the program’s spending. About 75 percent of U.S.  healthcare dollars are spent on patients with chronic conditions.

The dashboard underscores the impact of multiple chronic conditions on spending and hospital usage. In Dallas, annual per-capita healthcare costs for a Medicare beneficiary with no or one chronic condition was $2,062, compared with $35,971 for those with six or more conditions. The latter group in Dallas also is nearly 10 times as likely to visit an emergency department and three times more likely to be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of discharge.

The dashboard is part of the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Initiative on Multiple Chronic Conditions, established in 2009. The Multiple Chronic Conditions: A Strategic Framework was developed to serve as a national roadmap for HHS as well as public and private stakeholders to use to coordinate and improve the health of beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions.

Steve Jacob is editor of D Healthcare Daily and author of the new book Health Care in 2020: Where Uncertain Reform, Bad Habits, Too Few Doctors and Skyrocketing Costs Are Taking Us. He can be reached at steve.jacob@dmagazine.com.

Posted in Hospitals, News, Research.