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Value-based programs yield lower readmission rates, significant cost savings, JAMA study shows

Study found that the combined impact of all three programs netted $32 million in cost savings in 2015.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

As the healthcare industry continues it's slow but sure transition to value-based care, the positive effect this may have on hospitals is emerging, with those taking part in one or more value-based programs showing lower readmission rates and bigger cost savings, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Publishing their findings in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers examined nearly 3,000 hospitals' Hospital Compare data between 2008 and 2015, honing in on heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia. They then assessed hospitals' participation in Meaningful Use, bundled payments and accountable care organizations, three voluntary value-based programs.

Among the relatively few hospitals not taking part on value-based care initiatives, of which there were only 56, 30-day readmission rates decreased by 1.3 percent annually over the time period studied.

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[Also: Wait times for Medicaid patients creep up slightly, timely appointments still generally accessible, JAMA study says]

Among hospitals participating in an ACO, however, readmission rates dropped 2.1 percent. Those participating in Meaningful Use saw their rates dip 2.3 percent.

But the difference was greatest among those hospitals taking part in all three programs, which saw their annual 30-day readmission rates decline by 2.9 percent.

That translated into big savings. The study found that the combined impact of all three programs netted $32 million in cost savings in 2015.

The numbers come at a time when participation in alternative payment models is climbing. As recently as 2010, none of the hospitals studied were participating in Meaningful Use, bundled payment or ACO programs, according to the study. By 2015, nearly 2,800 were participating in at least one of them.

Twitter: @JELagasse