The authors also call for continued improvement in risk models for estimating patients’ risk of readmission, just like current, well-tested models to predict their risk of death.
Other researchers too have shown there isn’t a tight link between a hospital’s 30-day readmission rate and its 30-day mortality rate for these conditions—suggesting that there’s more to the story when thinking about using them as measures of hospital quality.
“It is not surprising that one measure of provider quality may not be strongly correlated with another—we have known this to be the case for years,” says Dr. Michael Williams, a health policy researcher at Harvard University in Boston who wasn’t involved in the study.
“But we must fight the instinct to measure everything and pay on everything, lest we detract from providers’ ability to provide high-quality care,” Williams adds by email. “Lack of correlations should not trigger knee-jerk calls for more measures tied to more bonuses and penalties.”
- Abdul-Aziz AA, Hayward RA, Aaronson KD, et al. Association between medicare hospital readmission penalties and 30-day combined excess readmission and mortality. JAMA Cardiol. 2016 Oct 26. doi: 10.1001/jamacardio.2016.3704. [Epub ahead of print]