Readmission rates are greater for patients discharged from hospitals to home health care than they are for those discharged to skilled nursing facilities but home health services cost so much less than nursing homes that home health saves money even with the higher numbers of hospital readmissions.
This is one of the major findings of a new study comparing differences in outcomes for patients who are admitted to skilled nursing facilities upon discharge from the hospital to those for patients who go direct home and receive home health services.
The study also found no meaningful differences in patient mortality or functional outcomes.
Readmissions from home health are 5.6 percent greater than those from skilled nursing facilities but with the much lower cost of home health services, Medicare saves, on average, more than $5400 over the first 60 days after discharge when patients are discharged to home health services rather than nursing homes.
Hospitals, it appears, prefer to discharge patients to nursing homes – perhaps, the study’s authors suggest, because of concern for their own readmission rates, which are subject to review and penalty under Medicare’s hospital readmissions reduction program. Also, relatively few hospitals participate in alternative payment models that encompass post-acute care in overall reimbursement.
Learn more from the JAMA Internal Medicine report “Patient Outcomes After Hospital Discharge to Home With Home Health Care vs to a Skilled Nursing Facility.”