The federal government has begun pressuring hospitals to cut down on patient readmission rates, reports The New York Times.
As part of the Affordable Care Act, Medicare is now fining hospitals it identifies as having too many patient readmissions. Thus far, the agency has targeted 2,217 such hospitals, 307 of which will receive the current maximum penalty of a one percent cut in Medicare payments for each patient admitted in the next year. According to the Times, these penalties are expected to total roughly $300 million over the next year.
The goal, the story notes, "is to pressure hospitals to pay attention to what happens to their patients after they walk out the door." Almost 20 percent of Medicare patients are readmitted to hospitals within a month of their initial stay, at a cost of more than $17 billion per year.
It's not just hospitals that are paying attention to the new fines, though. For some 'omics companies, the new rules could be a business opportunity. Earlier this month, protein biomarker firm BG Medicine announced, as our sister publication ProteoMonitor reported, it was shifting its sales strategy for its BGM Galectin-3 heart failure test to focus more on hospitals, marketing the product as a tool for reducing readmission rates.