For two years, hospitals have been closely watching how often certain patients return for the same condition, including pneumonia and heart failure, because that could mean penalties and losing money.
Medicare has been evaluating hospital readmission rates and comparing them to the national average. If the numbers show too many patients come back for treatment again, Medicare is docking how much the hospitals receive in reimbursement.
The goal of the research and financial penalties is to lower the cost and improve the quality of health care, according to Bill Oakes, Johnson Memorial Hospital chief development officer. As health care reform causes employers, Medicare and other groups to scrutinize how much money they spend on medical treatment, the data will be increasingly important, he said.