ASPPH logo


Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

BU Study: Avoiding Readmissions of High-Risk Patients Is Key to Cost Savings

Hospitals within the Veterans Administration could save an estimated $2,140 per patient by taking steps to ensure that high-risk patients who have been discharged will not need to be readmitted within 30 days, a new study by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers shows.

The study, published in Health Care Management Science, examined expected readmission costs for patients with heart failure, heart attacks, and pneumonia — costs that have come under intense scrutiny as federal officials have sought to reduce Medicare payouts in recent years. Hospitals are penalized by Medicare for excessive readmissions, but little research has been done on the direct costs incurred by hospitals for readmitting patients.

Researchers Dr. Kathleen Carey, professor of health policy and management, and Dr. Theodore Stefos, assistant professor of health policy and management, found that, overall, hospitals could expect to save $2,140 for the average 30-day readmission avoided. For heart attack, heart failure, and pneumonia patients, expected readmission cost estimates were $3,432, $2,488, and $2,278, respectively. For high-risk patients, including those with severe illnesses and complications, those expected costs more than doubled.

“We found the singular factor that had high impact on readmission cost was high risk of illness. This is an important finding for managers,” the study says.

To read more about the study, go to: