Rau explains using data to write about hospital readmissions

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Many health policy experts believe that hospital readmissions are symptomatic of the broad dysfunction of the health care system in which 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.

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As a result, hospitals will face penalties for excessive readmissions of patients treated for heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia.

Jordan Rau, of Kaiser Health News, recently reported that 2,211 hospitals will lose a piece of their Medicare reimbursement – that’s about two-thirds of all the hospitals Medicare evaluated.

In a piece for AHCJ, Rau explains how the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services calculates the penalty and how to write about it.

As Rau says, “hospitals are doing a lot of interesting things to try to clamp down on readmission rates. It’s a nice window into many of the most important issues in health care, including cost, access and disparities, and the CMS data allow reporters to write about hospitals with specificity and authority.”

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