Trends in readmission rates for safety net hospitals and non-safety net hospitals in the era of the US Hospital Readmission Reduction Program: a retrospective time series analysis using Medicare administrative claims data from 2008 to 2015.

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Trends in readmission rates for safety net hospitals and non-safety net hospitals in the era of the US Hospital Readmission Reduction Program: a retrospective time series analysis using Medicare administrative claims data from 2008 to 2015.

BMJ Open. 2017 Jul 13;7(7):e016149

Authors: Salerno AM, Horwitz LI, Kwon JY, Herrin J, Grady JN, Lin Z, Ross JS, Bernheim SM

Abstract
OBJECTIVE: To compare trends in readmission rates among safety net and non-safety net hospitals under the US Hospital Readmission Reduction Program (HRRP).
DESIGN: A retrospective time series analysis using Medicare administrative claims data from January 2008 to June 2015.
SETTING: We examined 3254 US hospitals eligible for penalties under the HRRP, categorised as safety net or non-safety net hospitals based on the hospital's proportion of patients with low socioeconomic status.
PARTICIPANTS: Admissions for Medicare fee-for-service patients, age ≥65 years, discharged alive, who had a valid five-digit zip code and did not have a principal discharge diagnosis of cancer or psychiatric illness were included, for a total of 52 516 213 index admissions.
PRIMARY AND SECONDARY OUTCOME MEASURES: Mean hospital-level, all-condition, 30-day risk-adjusted standardised unplanned readmission rate, measured quarterly, along with quarterly rate of change, and an interrupted time series examining: April-June 2010, after HRRP was passed, and October-December 2012, after HRRP penalties were implemented.
RESULTS: 58.0% (SD 15.3) of safety net hospitals and 17.1% (SD 10.4) of non-safety net hospitals' patients were in the lowest quartile of socioeconomic status. The mean safety net hospital standardised readmission rate declined from 17.0% (SD 3.7) to 13.6% (SD 3.6), whereas the mean non-safety net hospital declined from 15.4% (SD 3.0) to 12.7% (SD 2.5). The absolute difference in rates between safety net and non-safety net hospitals declined from 1.6% (95% CI 1.3 to 1.9) to 0.9% (0.7 to 1.2). The quarterly decline in standardised readmission rates was 0.03 percentage points (95% CI 0.03 to 0.02, p<0.001) greater among safety net hospitals over the entire study period, and no differential change among safety net and non-safety net hospitals was found after either HRRP was passed or penalties enacted.
CONCLUSIONS: Since HRRP was passed and penalties implemented, readmission rates for safety net hospitals have decreased more rapidly than those for non-safety net hospitals.

PMID: 28710221 [PubMed - in process]

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