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Health Affairs / RWJF brief explores improving care transitions

Posted on September 26, 2012 | No Comments

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Implementation Briefs

Health Affairs and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation published a new policy brief regarding efforts to improve care transitions. Care transitions are movements that patients make among health care providers and settings as their needs change during the course of illness. Without well-planned coordination, these transitions may result in patient harm and needless expense. According to the brief, researchers estimated that in 2011, poor transitions caused between $25 and $45 billion in wasteful medical spending through avoidable complications and unnecessary hospital readmissions.

Topics covered in the brief include the causes of poor care transitions, improving care transitions, and policy options to address transition coordination.

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In a new analysis by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), hospital readmissions for Medicare beneficiaries dipped .7% between 2009 and 2011. This is good news for hospitals which will face readmissions penalties beginning October 1. Starting on October 1, Medicare will lower reimbursement rates for thsoe hospitals that fail to reduce hospital readmission rates related to pneumonia, heart failure, and heart attack. The government's overarching goal is to reduce readmissions by 20%, which would save the federal government more than $2.5 million per year.
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