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Study reports adding socioeconomic data to standardized measures has big effect on calculated readmission rates

Posted on: 6/3/2014

A recent study published by Health Affairs found that more meaningful comparisons can be made when socioeconomic data is added to standardized readmission measures. The researchers compared 30-day readmissions rates from hospitals that used one of two models. The first model was the current model used by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for public reporting of condition-specific hospital readmission rates of Medicare patients. The second model involved census tract-level socioeconomic data, such as poverty rate, education level and housing vacancy rate.

The results saw a noticeable effect on the calculated hospital readmission rates for several types of patients. The narrowed range of observed variation in readmission rates attributed to the inclusion of socioeconomic data includes:

  • Decrease for patients admitted for acute myocardial infarction from 6.5% to 1.8%
  • Decrease for patients admitted for heart failure from 14% to 7.4%
  • Decrease for patients admitted for pneumonia from 7.4% to 3.7%

Although the socioeconomic data narrowed the range of observed variation in calculated readmission rates, there was not a significant difference between the two models in the average readmission rates for these three conditions.

To read the abstract in Health Affairs, click here.

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