Focus: Readmission rates

Rehospitalization rates should continue to be a strong focal point for gauging providers' efficacy in future payment arrangements.

That's the conclusion of Brown University researchers who found that the rehospitalization-rate measure that regulators recently added to Nursing Home Compare is a reliable indicator of which nursing facilities are most likely to send residents back to the hospital.

“Hospitals should encourage their patients to select SNFs that have lower risk-adjusted rehospitalization rates through such strategies as quality ratings and patient education,” wrote Momtazur Rahman, Ph.D., of Brown University's Department of Health Services Policy and Practice.

Researchers were seeking to determine if the rehospitalization rates posted on Nursing Home Compare “reflect true quality or are merely the result of favorable selection.” 

They said the results are a reason for optimism since they show Nursing Home Compare's rehospitalization rates reflect true differences in quality between skilled nursing facilities and not purely differences in patient severity.

The researchers used Medicare data from 2009 through 2012 to calculate skilled nursing facilities' risk-adjusted rehospitalization rates. 

Results of the study appeared online in Health Services Research