Health & Fitness

Don’t want to end up back in the hospital? Be a patient in Idaho.

The only state with a lower hospital-readmission rate for certain Medicare patients than Idaho last year was Utah, according to new federal data.
The only state with a lower hospital-readmission rate for certain Medicare patients than Idaho last year was Utah, according to new federal data. Kathy Hagedorn

Medicare patients in Idaho are among the least likely in the nation to return to the hospital after being treated for certain conditions, according to new data.

About one in eight of 28,139 hospital admissions in Idaho last year ended up with patients being readmitted, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The CMS tally considered patients with targeted clinical conditions such as heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia.

Hospital readmissions are one of the areas that insurers, including Medicare, are paying attention to as they seek to stem the rising cost of health care and push for higher quality.

The Affordable Care Act created a program that penalizes hospitals where too many patients return within 30 days after being treated for the targeted conditions.

12.2% Idaho’s hospital readmission rate for Medicare program

“The unfortunate experience of having to return to the hospital after recently being treated — or watching the same thing happen to a friend or family member — is all too common,” two CMS administrators said Tuesday in a blog post. “Potentially avoidable hospital readmissions that occur within 30 days of a patient’s initial discharge are estimated to account for more than $17 billion in Medicare expenditures annually.”

Hospital officials note that readmissions can happen because of factors outside of a hospital’s control, such as patient demographics and access to health care once a patient leaves the hospital.

But the Medicare agency says hospitals can cut their readmissions by sending patients home “with appropriate medications, instructions for follow-up care, and follow-up appointments scheduled to make sure their recovery stays on track.”

While Idaho’s readmission rate is good, it was among the least-improved between 2010 and 2015. It improved by 2.4 percent, while several states had double-digit improvement. But that might be due to the relative difficulty of lowering an already low rate.

The only state with a lower readmission rate last year was Utah, at 11.5 percent.

Audrey Dutton: 208-377-6448, @IDS_Audrey

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