Government and Regulations

Performance Disconnect: Measures Don’t Improve Hospitals’ Readmissions Experience


Two recent studies have reached the same surprising conclusion: Adherence to national quality and performance guidelines does not translate into reduced readmissions rates.

Sula Mazimba, MD, MPH, and colleagues at Kettering Medical Center in Kettering, Ohio, focused on congestive heart failure (CHF) patients, documenting compliance with four core CHF performance measures at discharge and subsequent 30-day readmissions. Only one measure-assessment of left ventricular function-had a significant association with readmissions.

A second study published the same month looked at a wider range of diagnoses in a Medicare population at more than 2,000 hospitals nationwide. That study reached similar conclusions about the disconnect between hospitals that followed Hospital Compare process quality measures and their readmission rates.

Dr. Mazimba says hospitalists and other physicians involved in quality improvement (QI) should be more involved in defining quality measures that reflect quality of care for their patients.

“We should be looking for parameters that have a higher yield for outcomes, such as preventing readmissions,” he says, encouraging better symptom management before the CHF patient is hospitalized and enhanced coordination of care after discharge.

Alpesh Amin, MD, MBA, SFHM, professor and chair of the department of medicine and executive director of the hospitalist program at the University of California at Irvine, says the findings are important, but he adds that the core quality measures studied were never designed to address readmissions.

“The challenge is to find a way to connect the dots between the core measures and readmissions,” he says.

Learn more about the four "core" heart failure quality measures for hospitals by visiting the Resource Rooms on the SHM website, or check out this 80-page implementation guide, “Improving Heart Failure Care for Hospitalized Patients [PDF],” also available on SHM’s website.

Read The Hospitalist columnist Win Whitcomb’s take on readmissions penalty programs.

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