Island Hospital continues to be recognized as one of the top hospitals in the State of Washington, regardless of size, for high-quality medical care with a four-star rating from Medicare, top-five ranking for quality by the Seattle P-I and the state’s lowest readmission rate in 2015.
When a patient is readmitted to the hospital following a recent stay, it’s difficult for the patient and family, and also greatly increases the cost of care. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is focusing on readmission prevention and is now penalizing hospitals with higher readmission rates.
Having fewer patients readmitted is very important in our community as Medicare – Island Hospital’s top source of revenue – is cutting reimbursement for hospitals not meeting the established standard. As most know, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) expanded Medicaid coverage to bring health insurance to millions of previously uninsured Americans (called Apple Health in the state of Washington). Along with the expansion of healthcare coverage – which has helped Island Hospital patients greatly – the ACA included a number of requirements to improve the quality of care and portability of patient information.
Lowering readmission rates is one of the quality measures established to cut unnecessary healthcare spending. Readmission is defined as a patient who needs to be admitted to the hospital within 30 days of discharge. An example of this would be a surgery patient who needed to be readmitted with an infection that occurred after leaving the hospital. Medicare and other insurers want unplanned hospital readmissions lowered as much as possible to decrease unnecessary expense. Studies have shown that a readmission more than doubles the cost of care and lowering the incidence of these can save a significant amount.
CMS launched the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRR) in 2012, penalizing hospitals with high readmission rates for acute myocardial infarction, heart failure and pneumonia. For fiscal year 2013 CMS levied the maximum (at that time) penalty against 276 hospitals, resulting in a 1% decrease in Medicare funds. Last year CMS added chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and elective hip and knee replacements to data calculated under the HRR.
To lower readmissions hospitals are:
- Better coordinating care and communication between providers, and between the patients and caregivers.
- Improving discharge planning, education and follow-up for discharged patients.
- Utilizing electronic medical records to share information and provide continuity of care.
Island Hospital was No. 1 in the state for lowest readmission rates last year. Our rate of 9.3% was nearly 40% below the state average of 15.3%. This accomplishment is a result of outstanding efforts across a wide range of departments, Medical Staff and a Board of Commissioners that want to be the best hospital for our community. We will continue each day to strive to improve our care to each and every patient.