Excerpt: “Readmission rates had been rock stable for years and years, and coincidentally they came down as observation status rose,” says Ashish Jha, MD, MPH, hospitalist at the VA Boston Healthcare System and professor of health policy at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “The concerning part was that we thought we were making care better by reducing readmissions, but if we were just shifting readmissions to observation, that’s not a change in care pattern—that’s a change in the classification of billing data.”
Earlier data, including an article and an analysis in the Health Affairs blog, also suggested hospitals were trading observation for readmissions, Dr. Jha says.3,4 But the new data have assuaged his concern.
“They did it right,” he says. “Previous studies lumped hospitals together in categories and were not carefully teasing apart what individual hospitals were doing, and when they looked at the individual level, we see no correlation.”