Quality improvement measures not necessarily cutting costs

Share this content:

Quality improvement measures are working at reducing hospital readmissions, but they are not necessarily cutting costs for healthcare systems, according to a new study.

Cedars-Sinai Department of Medicine researchers performed a systematic review on 50 quality improvement programs and more than 16,700 patients.

Readmissions for heart failure patients decreased by 12.1%, they found. The rate decreased by 6.3% for adults with a range of health issues.

The savings for hospitals, however, varied. Hospitals saved $972 on average per heart failure patient. They lost, on average, $169 per patient in the general population. The most savings resulted when quality improvement measures were specifically targeted at patients and their caregivers, the researchers said.

"Our findings suggest that there is no guarantee of net cost savings once the implementation costs associated with efforts to prevent readmissions are considered," said Teryl Nuckols, M.D., MSHS who conducted the study.

Hospital systems are penalized for 30-day hospital readmissions for certain conditions, such as heart failure and pneumonia.