Interactive: Readmission Rates And Poverty Levels For Individual Hospitals

Dec 19, 2011

Low-income patients suffering from congestive heart failure often are hard for hospitals to keep from being readmitted within 30 days of discharge. This interactive chart compares the heart failure readmission rates and patient population poverty levels for more than 3,000 hospitals. Using this chart, you can search for a hospital by region or by state. You can also sort the chart by hospital name, city, state, hospital region, readmission rate and poverty level.

>> Main Story: Medicare Penalties For Readmissions Could Be A Tough Hit On Hospitals Serving The Poor

The chart lists Medicare’s calculation of each hospital’s heart failure readmission rate. The bar shows the range of Medicare’s estimate, taking into account how much statistical uncertainty there is about Medicare’s calculation. The color of the bar indicates how Medicare classifies the hospital’s heart failure readmission rate: better than the national average (  ), average (  ) or worse than the national average (  ).  The national average is indicated by a vertical line.

The poverty level of the hospital illustrates how much of a hospital’s patient population is low-income in comparison with the patient load of other hospitals. The 20 percent of hospitals with the fewest low-income patients have one circle (  ), and the 20 percent of hospitals with the most low-income patients have five circles (  ).

When looking at readmission rates, be aware that Medicare only classifies hospitals as better or worse if there’s no statistical chance its rehospitalization rate might be the same as the national average (24.8 percent). When declaring which hospitals are outliers, Medicare gives wider latitude to those hospitals with fewer patients, since it is harder to calculate those readmission rate with as much precision as it is for hospitals with more patients. That is why two hospitals with the same readmission rate number can be classified differently, and a hospital classified as having average readmissions can have a numerical rate that is higher than a hospital classified as having excess readmissions. You can read more about KHN’s methodology and Medicare’s methodology.