New year, same goal

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Kaitlyn Dmyterko - 17.10 Kb
Kaitlyn Dmyterko, associate editor

Despite ringing in a new year, the goal for the cardiology community in 2012 will be much the same—to provide unparalleled, ever-improving patient care. However, hospitals and physicians also will be forced to tie in cost containment in an attempt to save overhead as future reimbursement cuts loom. As you reflect on what went right last year, how will you strive to provide care that is one cut above?

In a study this week in JAMA, researchers gave kudos to the U.S. after finding that the country has the shortest hospital length of stay for MI patients. While a large accomplishment, the study also showed that American patients have a 68 percent increased risk of being readmitted to the hospital after an MI.

Readmission rates were nearly two-thirds lower in all other countries. Therefore, the researchers concluded that readmission rates could be preventable and more action will be necessary to curb readmissions. While perhaps one of the New Year’s resolutions for the healthcare community should be to reduce these preventable readmissions, the big question that remains is how? Also, do these types of studies truly assess the sickness of the patients who are being treated?

While there are a few ideas, some have turned to home monitoring as a means to help stop a readmission before it starts. But, a study this week in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology said the benefits of a home monitoring system for heart failure patients are yet to be seen. Twenty-seven percent of HF patients are readmitted to the hospital within 30 days, according to the authors, who studied whether home monitoring could help reduce this statistic.

Studying patients’ hemodynamic data may be beneficial, but monitoring factors such as medication adherence may become more important. The authors concluded that it still remains unknown what patient populations see the most benefit from home monitoring and said that future studies will need to outline what patient variables will be most important to monitor, i.e., blood pressure, heart rate, etc.

Curbing readmissions can help cut costs. What are you doing to prevent it? Write in to tell us your New Year’s resolutions and let us know what you plan to do in the upcoming year to transform healthcare.

Kaitlyn Dmyterko
Cardiovascular Business, associate editor