Hospitals work to prevent readmissions

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Hospitals are looking for ways to lower readmission rates, which can add up to billions of dollars in spending, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. Many readmissions include elderly patients with chronic diseases.

Nearly 18% of Medicare patients admitted to a hospital are readmitted within 30 days of discharge, resulting in costs of $15 billion, according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission. Re-hospitalizations not only result in extra care expenses, they also can have negative consequences on patients' psyches and ultimately their overall health.

Among other measures, hospitals are exploring preventive strategies. The Institute for Healthcare Improvement, a nonprofit based in Boston, for example, is working to implement proactive programs in hospitals. These programs include identifying patients at risk for readmission, scheduling follow-up doctor appointments before patients are discharged, and educating patients and families on how to adhere to medication schedules and self-care regimens. Still, many hospitals don't have such programs, the article noted.

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