Fining hospitals for readmission rates might be a key to improve patient care: Study

Canadian residents admitted to hospital are more likely to be readmitted within a three-year period – in Canada readmission rates are stable, while in other countries they are falling.

“Reducing readmission rates is one of the most feasible ways to improve patient care and reduce health-care costs,” said Jason Sutherland in a statement, an associate professor in the Centre for Health Services and Policy Research in UBC’s School of Population and Public Health.

Heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia were the three conditions analyzed for the study between 2010 and 2013. Of 18 B.C. hospitals, readmission cost the province $13 million for the three conditions alone.

Sutherland analyzed a tactic called “Hospital Readmission Reduction Program” (HRRP), which was implemented in the U.S. to fine hospitals for their readmission rates – creating an incentive to provide better care and increase rehabilitation.

Researchers calculated if the HRRP were implemented in B.C., many hospitals would lose less than $40,000, while the largest financial penalty would reach up to $217,000.

Although technically possible in B.C., Sutherland believes the impact would be too small to influence hospital protocol, “Canadian health care systems need to be making changes to get more value for health spending and to improve the quality of care patients receive.”