Nancy Foster, Vice President for Quality and Patient Safety Policy for the American Hospital Association, said the AHA favors sharing good information that helps hospitals improve. But the data in this report, she says, "indicates that the challenges of reducing unnecessary readmissions are complex, and there's not one single solution."
Sometimes, she says, the problem is that the patient doesn't have a primary care physician, or maybe they have multiple physicians. "You can say that oh, the problem would be solved if the hospital makes an appointment for the patient in 14 days. It sounds simple, but it is not easy to do."
Sometimes she adds, the doctors are not accepting new patients, or they're overwhelmed, and it becomes very challenging to make sure it happens."
Reducing readmissions is a prominent goal throughout the healthcare industry, she added. "I can't point to one hospital that isn't working very hard on this," she said.
The Dartmouth report provided some examples of the extreme regional variation in readmission rates:
The research project for the first time includes a companion report for patients with advice on how they should take a more active role in managing their own care to prevent a readmission.