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Reporters can use hospital readmission data to explore key issues

Jordan Rau
Jordan Rau

The Affordable Care Act honed in on hospital readmissions because many health policy experts believe they’re symptomatic of the broad dysfunction of the health care system where providers don’t work with each other as patients pass from one setting, like a hospital, to another, like a primary doctor’s oversight or a nursing home.

Readmissions penalties that begin in October are intended to prod hospitals to start making sure patients get the care they need after they walk out the door. It’s a nice window into many of the most important issues in health care, including cost, access and disparities.

Jordan Rau, of Kaiser Health News, explains the penalties, the readmission data and offers tips on how to use the data to write about hospitals with specificity and authority.

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