Clinical Question: Did hospitals receiving the highest penalties for readmissions have accelerated improvement in this metric after passage of Medicare Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP)?
Background: Medicare passed the HRRP to incentivize reductions in readmission rates. The impact of penalties on relative hospital improvement rates remains unknown.
Study Design: Retrospective pre-post analysis.
Setting: Query of national Medicare Provider Analysis and Review files.
Synopsis: 2,868 hospitals were identified as candidates for analysis and were stratified into four risk groups based on penalty size under HRRP: highest-performing, average-performing, low-performing, and lowest-performing. The primary outcomes were hospital-specific, 30-day, all-cause risk-standardized readmission rates (RSRRs) for patients discharged with acute MI, HF, or pneumonia. The investigators separated data into a pre-law period and post-law period. They fitted a logistic regression model to pre-law RSRRs and developed a piecewise linear model on post-law RSRRs with pre-law data as the dependent variable. All hospital groups had reductions in RSRRs, with the lowest quartile demonstrating greatest improvement.
Bottom Line: HRRP has resulted in reductions in RSRRs with greatest improvement in hospitals with lowest pre-law performance.
Citations: Wasfy JH, Zigler CM, Choirat C, et al. Readmission rates after passage of the hospital readmissions reduction program: a pre-post analysis. Ann Intern Med. 2017 Mar;166(5):324-31.
Dr. Patil is a clinical instructor, Division of Hospital Medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora.