(HealthDay News) — Incorporating socioeconomic data into standardized readmission measures provides more meaningful comparisons, according to a study published in the May issue of Health Affairs.

Elna M. Nagasako, MD, from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and colleagues compared 30-day readmission rates for hospitals in Missouri using two types of models. The first model was the one currently used by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for public reporting of condition-specific hospital readmission rates of Medicare patients. The second model was an enriched model with census tract-level socioeconomic data (including poverty rate, educational attainment, and housing vacancy rate).

The researchers found that inclusion of these factors had a pronounced effect on calculated hospital readmission rates for patients admitted with acute myocardial infarction (MI), heart failure (HF), and pneumonia. Including socioeconomic data in the model narrowed the range of observed variation in readmission rates for MI (from 6.5 to 1.8%), HF (14.0 to 7.4%), and pneumonia (7.4 to 3.7%). The average readmission rates for the three conditions did not change significantly between the two types of models.

“The results of our exploratory analysis suggest that further work to characterize and report the effects of socioeconomic factors on standardized readmission measures may assist efforts to improve care quality and deliver more equitable care on the part of hospitals, payers, and other stakeholders,” the authors write.

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