ACC 2015: Public reporting of heart failure readmissions has not lowered national rates

March 15, 2015 – Researchers sought to determine what effect, if any, public reporting has had on heart failure readmission rates.

Heart failure is a major national health concern associated with tremendous costs, partly due to the high rate of hospital readmission. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services made reducing these readmission rates a national priority. Some of the measures implemented to address this issue include public reporting of hospital readmission rates and reducing payments to institutions that have higher-than-expected rates.

adam-devore-newsIn a new study led by Co-Chief Fellow Adam DeVore, MD, (pictured, right) researchers sought to determine what effect, if any, public reporting has had on readmission rates. Using Medicare claims, they reviewed data on patients who were hospitalized for heart failure and then discharged home. The data span from July 2006 to June 2012, three years before and three years after public reporting became a requirement.

Looking at the trends during that six-year timeframe, researchers did not find a significant difference in the rates of readmissions or emergency department visits after hospitals began reporting this data in 2009. They found that public reporting was not associated with improvements in the 30-day readmission rate.

“Publicly reporting readmission rates seems to have very little impact on actually reducing the number of hospital readmissions,” said DeVore. “We were surprised by these findings, as other studies have indicated readmission rates have improved slightly, but those studies didn’t account for readmission trends before 2009.”

“Our data suggests that public reporting of data can draw attention to issues, but it doesn’t improve the care of patients,” DeVore continued. “We feel that policies such as public reporting should be rolled out incrementally to test the impact on care before rolling it out nationally.”

The findings were presented at the American College of Cardiology Annual Scientific Sessions in San Diego. Other Duke authors include Bradley Hammill, MS; Zubin Eapen, MD; Eric Peterson, MD, MPH; and Adrian Hernandez, MD.