Groundbreaking Study Highlights Link Between Home Care and Decrease in Hospital Readmissions
Study Shows 30-percent Lower Need for Hospitalization, Millions of Dollars Saved
Patients who utilize Medicare home health care after a hospital stay are at least 30 percent less likely to require another hospitalization within 30 days, according to a new study released today by the Home Care and Hospice Association of New Jersey. The study comes on the heels of the state’s recent recognition last summer of having the highest percentage of hospitals — 97 percent of the state’s 64 facilities — penalized by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for failing to curb high readmittance rates of Medicare Fee-for-Service patients within 30 days of their initial discharge.
“Those of us in the home care industry have known for a long time that home health care leads to lower rates of readmittance and greater savings to our health care system,” said Chrissy Buteas, President and CEO of the Home Care and Hospice Association of New Jersey. “And now a careful look at the data proves this point. When patients take advantage of home health care, they can dramatically reduce their chances of landing back in the hospital.”
The study was conducted by the Quality Insights Quality Innovation Network, contracted by CMS to improve quality of health care for Medicare beneficiaries in New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Louisiana, and focused on Medicare Fee-for-Service claims from 2014.
The 30-day hospital readmission rate among beneficiaries receiving home health care services was 17.2 percent, as opposed to 24.5 percent among those who received a home health care referral but refused the service. For patients living with multiple (four or more) chronic illnesses, the disparity was even greater, with 23.7 percent of home health care recipients requiring a readmission as opposed to 31.8 percent of those who refused home health care.
Overall, the study suggests that approximately $6.9 million could have been saved from the Medicare system if patients who refused home health care services following a hospital discharge had instead taken advantage of them.
“Home care works because registered nurses and therapists are trained to recognize the subtle differences in a patient’s condition to make a medically sound assessment of which symptoms require a trip to the hospital and which do not,” said Buteas. “More importantly, as this study suggests, home care is playing an important role in allowing people to manage their health not in a hospital, but in the place in which they are most comfortable, their own home.”