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Hospital Compare

This week we look at an element of the healthcare reform package designed to improve care for the elderly once they have been released from the hospital.

Map from Hospital Compare

Map from Hospital Compare

The idea is simple: medicare payments to hospitals would be withheld, if older patients are readmitted too often, too soon. The plan is to encourage more coordinated care once a patient gets home. It’s a new policy that went into effect this past October as part of the Affordable Care Act – meant to save the government more than a quarter billion dollars just over the next year.

Since 2010, the federal government has been keeping track of readmissions rates at more than forty-seven hundred hospitals and posting that information online. They’re looking to find if patients are readmitted within thirty days for three specific conditions: heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia. You, as a consumer of health care, can access this information yourself through the Hospital Compare website. There you can plug in your own zip code and choose area hospitals to rank against each other.

Readmissions graph from Hospital Compare

The results will not only give you graphic representations of the readmissions conditions tracked by the Affordable Care Act, but also offers everything from patient evaluations of staff communication skills to whether or not you can get your lab results electronically.