Readmissions & Demographics

Working with public health departments, Health Monitoring Systems’ staff has worked with over 700 hospitals to collect emergency department registrations and admissions data from them. The question we always strive to answer is, “What else can we do?” Public health is intrinsically data-driven, attempting to understand both health trends and events in an effort to anticipate and plan intervention to monitor and protect the community’s health.

Readmission rates have been a hot topic the last few years. Several years ago, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) stopped paying for readmissions for certain conditions. The thinking has been that readmissions are an unnecessary, avoidable expense that reflects the quality of care being delivered.

According to the Center for Advancing Health, however,

Nearly 60 percent of the variation in hospital readmission rates appears to be associated with where the hospital is located rather than on the hospital’s performance, finds a new study in Health Services Research.

That is alarming.

If true, it means that CMS is penalizing hospitals that serve the most challenging patient mix.

This is where public health and HMS come in. Can we look at the syndromic surveillance data that is collected by EpiCenter and repeat these findings? With continuous coverage from New Jersey through portions of Indiana, EpiCenter is uniquely positioned to provide insight for public health on demographic-based readmissions.

Dr. Andrew Walsh and I are excited to explore the possibilities of using EpiCenter data to examine demographics-based admissions and readmissions trends. The results should provide public health with a fresh perspective on how healthcare facilities in their region are grappling with CMS regulations.

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