- A new study concludes that lengthening hospital admissions by even one day can significantly reduce readmissions and mortality rates for some illnesses, thus likely reducing long-term healthcare costs.
- The Columbia Business School study, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, surveyed 6.6 million Medicare patients treated from 2008 to 2011. A sample finding: The morality rate for pneumonia patients dropped by 22% with another day of hospitalization.
- 20% of Medicare patients are readmitted within 30 days, according to the survey, costing almost $17 billion annually.
The inpatient stay length issue has been a touchy subject for decades, with the interested parties tussling over how long a patient should stay in the hospital. But this study should put some weight behind the supporters of longer stays, as it clearly makes a case that—at least for some illnesses—short stays can be penny wise and pound foolish. And most importantly of all, the longer stays are shown in the study to reduce mortality rates in some cases.
"Given the stiff penalties imposed under the Affordable Care Act, hospitals are implementing a variety of approaches to aggressively reduce readmission rates, most commonly involving outpatient care," Ann P. Bartel, professor of finance and economics at Columbia Business School, said in a news release. "While some types of outpatient interventions can be effective, our study shows that hospitals should consider keeping some of their patients in the hospital longer to better control patient care, reduce readmissions and ensure fewer deaths."