Costs of Readmissions are Up:  Have You Done Your Service Line Math?

Posted by Cam McClellan Teems

June 24, 2019 at 6:13 PM


The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services penalized half of U.S. hospitals for their readmission rates in 2016. The penalties are controversial, and major professional organizations such as the American Hospital Association, have questioned the methods used to assess the data.  Recently, the AHRQ examined readmission trends and costs using the 2010-16 Nationwide Readmissions Database.

Here is a small sample of a recent list that was published by AHRQ with average readmission costs and readmission rates for the top 2.  This includes patients 1 year and older, readmitted for any cause within 30 days of first admission:.

1. Neoplasms/Cancer — $17,900 (Readmission rate = 17.9%)

2. Circulatory system diseases — $15,900 (Readmission rate = 16.4%)

3. Musculoskeletal system diseases — $15,000

4. Respiratory system diseases — $14,500

5. Nervous system diseases — $14,400

6. Digestive system diseases — $14,400

7. Endocrine/metabolic diseases — $13,500

8. Genitourinary system diseases — $13,200

Published data supports the move to pair enhanced care coordination activities with patients, to lower readmissions.  Researchers also say that patients who don't have social connections are more likely to be readmitted, demonstrating that hospitals should pay more attention to the context of patients’ lives as they develop discharge plans.  Only this kind of wholistic and disease-based patient focus will identify those at high risk of readmission and ultimately provide tailored services to meet their needs - thus keeping unplanned readmission costs at bay.

Have you done the math on your own readmissions?  Can you afford to not look at readmissions with a wholistic and disease-based patient focus?


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