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Limiting readmissions at hospitals in BC would save big money: report

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Readmissions for heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia at 18 hospitals cost BC $13-million over three years

The hospital readmission rate is going up in Canada

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Ensuring patients leave the hospital for good rather than needing readmission shortly after would bring big savings for health authorities, finds new research.

The research examined whether financial penalties used in the US for readmissions would reduce rates here.

“Our objective was to take the financial penalties being used in the United States to try to provide financial incentives to provide higher quality care to prevent readmissions,” says Jason Sutherland, an associate professor at UBC’s School of Population and Public Health. “When we applied those rules and regulations to British Columbia hospitals, the average penalty would be approximately $60,000 or $70,000, so it really wasn’t that much money at all. Certainly not enough for them to significantly alter their behaviours to try to improve care or reduce readmissions.”

He says readmission rates are going down in other countries — but not here.

As for our province?

“I think BC is clearly in the middle of the pack,” says Sutherland when asked about how our province compares with other parts of the country. “It certainly doesn’t have better quality care, but it certainly doesn’t have the worst quality care. I think it’s enough to say it’s a middling performer on readmission rates.”

The study found readmissions for heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia at 18 hospitals cost the province $13-million over three years.

“There are a lot of options for provinces to try to provide incentives to reduce readmission rates, but I think this study showed that financial penalties are probably not the way to go at this time,” says Sutherland.