New 30-Day Readmission Rates Listed at HHS Hospital Compare Web site

Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media , July 9, 2009

Hospital readmission rates that occur within 30 days after discharge for Medicare patients with heart attacks, heart failure, or pneumonia are now available for viewing for the first time on the Hospital Compare Web site.

The readmission rates are being added to information already available at the site on how often hospitals take guided steps to provide care for these patients, as well as updated information on mortality rates. The information is offered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and is supported by the Hospital Quality Alliance, a national public/private collaboration.

More than 4,000 hospitals—including almost all acute care hospitals—have voluntarily submitted quality information to share with the public through the Web site.

Hospitals are placed in one of three categories based on their readmission rate compared with the national readmission rate. These categories are: "no different than the U.S. national rate," "better than the U.S. national rate," or "worse than the U.S. national rate."

Each hospital's readmission rates for the specific condition also can be compared to its state's average.

Each rate is presented as a single number, along with a confidence interval that indicates the range of certainty in which the hospital's true performance falls.

Hospital Compare shows how often a Medicare patient with one of these conditions returns to the same hospital or a different hospital within 30 days following their initial stay.

The methodology used to calculate the readmission rates uses Medicare billing records from July 2005 to June 2008. The information is designed to be a starting point for providers who want to take any necessary steps to reduce readmissions.

Hospitals, other healthcare providers, and community organizations could use the readmission data to understand what may be contributing to hospital readmissions, such as the availability of primary and hospice care in the community or transportation challenges patients might face in getting to follow up appointments.

The new update joins a growing collection of clinical care information on the Hospital Compare Web site. HQA members work together to improve the quality of care provided by the nation's hospitals by measuring and publicly reporting information about hospital care.

Janice Simmons is a senior editor and Washington, DC, correspondent for HealthLeaders Media Online. She can be reached at

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