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Heart failure readmission rates tied to regional socioeconomic factors, research shows

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Surveyors will be checking to see how well hospital discharge procedures facilitate SNF transfers
Surveyors will be checking to see how well hospital discharge procedures facilitate SNF transfers
Socioeconomic differences and factors such as the availability of physicians have a bigger impact on readmission rates for heart failure than a provider's performance, a new study asserts.
 
Starting next year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will penalize healthcare providers with high readmission rates for heart failure in an effort to reduce hospitalization costs. But doing this fails to address the community members' health and access to healthcare, according to an analysis of Harvard Medical School researchers.
 
In an observational analysis of billing records for more than one million Medicare beneficiaries with heart failure, researchers found that factors such as the availability of physicians and the number of beds a facility had were the strongest predictors of differences in readmission rates, representing 17% of the variation in rates. A provider's quality performance accounted for just 4% of the variation, according to lead author, Karen E. Joynt, M.D., while poverty and minority status represented 9% of the variation.
 
The research was presented at the American Heart Association's Quality of Care & Outcomes Research Scientific Sessions 2012, held this week in Baltimore.
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