"Things like a patient's ability to follow the instructions that were given to him or her upon discharge, whether they can get to a rehab facility or they can get to physical therapy or they can get out and exercise in a safe environment or they can find appropriate food in their local grocery store. All of those things play into whether or not a patient actually recovers as quickly and as well as we'd all want, and certainly the patient would want," she says.
AHA and other hospital groups have been calling for a socio-demographic metric for years and Foster says the federal government may now be responding to research.
"Enough questions and enough research has been published that Health and Human Services thought it was important for NQF to look at this question and determine whether there was something really there," Foster says. "We have reason to believe that the sociodemographic factors are significant and outside the control of providers, and perhaps should be adjusted for."
"There have been any number of stories," says Foster, "usually published about readmission measures, and because they have significant penalties attached to them and because the data are out there now one can actually do the analyses."
Safety Net Hospitals Also Supportive
Beth Feldpush, senior vice president for policy and advocacy at America's Essential Hospitals, said the safety net hospital lobby "strongly supports the NQF panel's recommendations."