York County residents have lower hospital readmission rates than the state average.
The rate for York county residents being readmitted to a hospital -- regardless of the hospital's location -- is at 12.5 percent for any reason, and 5.5 percent specifically for a complication or infection, according to a new report form the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4).
The PHC4 report found that, statewide, 13.5 percent of hospital stays are followed by a readmission within 30 days.
That means that about two of every 15 adult hospital stays in Pennsylvania were followed by at least one readmission for any reason within the next 30 days in 2010, the most recent year for which figures are available.
Although PHC4 has included readmission statistics in several of its publications in recent years, this is the first time the agency has released a report solely devoted to patients' hospital returns. The study focused on the data from all adult readmissions for all conditions for all general acute hospitals.
"Preventable readmissions are receiving more attention because they present important opportunities to improve patient care and reduce costs," said Joe Martin, executive director of PHC4.
Local numbers: Memorial Hospital in York had an 8 percent rate of readmissions in 2011, said Josette Myers, spokeswoman for Memorial Hospital.
Followup phone calls after a patient is discharged are one
way that Memorial keeps readmissions to a minimum, Myers said.
Memorial also has added a transition of care nurse -- a role for registered nurses to connect with patients and care teams from the point of admission until the time of discharge, said Myers. That way, the needs of patients and families are met and medication is prescribed and taken in a consistent manner, she said.
If a patient is started on a new or complicated medication, a pharmacist at Memorial will meet with the person to provide special instruction, Myers said.
WellSpan's rate of readmissions is about 12 percent, said Ann Kunkel, director for case management for WellSpan Health, which includes York Hospital, Gettysburg Hospital, and several other health care entities in York and Adams counties.
"One of the things that we started doing is addressing the issue of follow-up care after a patient has been hospitalized," Kunkel said. "We've made great efforts on that in the past year."
Two years ago, 30 percent of discharged patients had a follow-up appointment, Kunkel said. Now that rate has increased to 70 percent, and WellSpan is working toward a goal of 90 percent.
Converting to the electronic data process has helped WellSpan to ensure that each patient's family doctor has his or her discharge and care information quickly, she said.
Agency on Aging: The York County Area Agency on Aging is leading an initiative through Aligning Forces For Quality with WellSpan, Hanover Hospital, and the Adams County Area Agency on Agency to smooth the transition for local patients leaving the hospital.
"We really don't have bad readmission rates in this county when you look at national averages," said Dianna Benaknin, agency director. "They're not like many areas, but that doesn't mean there's not room for improvement. If we can improve health care and quality for an individual in this community, that makes a lot of sense and clearly it saves money."
York County scored one percentage point lower than the state for readmissions for any reason, but was almost equal for readmissions due specifically to a complication or infection -- 5.5 percent compared to a statewide rate of 5.6 percent.
Benaknin said the Agency on Aging initiative comes partially as a response to readmission rates. The main goal is to have hospitals notify the agency when someone is discharged, so it can do an in-home check afterward to help patients transition.
"When somebody leaves a hospital, we're the people who see the medication in a home or see the old medications that need thrown out or the barriers in the home that might present safety challenges," said Benaknin. "We're kind of that other piece that can see red flags to identify where barriers might be."
-- Reach Chelsea Shank at 505-5432 or email@example.com.