Pennsylvania hospitals reduce mortality rates for ten common health conditions, new report reveals

New PHC4 report shows hospitals are reducing mortality rates, preventing re-hospitalizations

Pennsylvania hospitals continue to improve quality and drive down mortality and readmission rates according to a new report released today by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4).

During the past five years, hospitals have significantly reduced mortality rates for ten common health conditions, including heart attacks, strokes, and pneumonia. These reductions saved the lives of an estimated 3,900 more Pennsylvanians, compared to five years earlier.

Patients hospitalized for septicemia, a deadly and difficult-to-treat infection of the bloodstream, saw the biggest increase in the percentage of lives saved. The mortality rate fell from 16.1 percent during 2010, to 10.2 percent during 2015. At the same time, the number of cases doubled, from nearly 23,000 cases during 2010, to more than 46,000 during 2015.

This concurrent increase in volume and decrease in mortality is in conjunction with hospitals’ efforts to identify septicemia and begin treatment as soon as possible. These factors are widely recognized as crucial for successful treatment.

Improvements in hospital quality and care coordination also reduced readmissions, the re-hospitalizations sometimes needed to provide additional treatment after patients have been discharged. During 2015, lower readmission rates for nine conditions, including chronic diseases such as congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), eliminated 2,700 re-hospitalizations that would have been needed during 2010.

Only one condition, hypotension and fainting, had a statistically significant increase in mortality rates during 2015 (0.4%) as compared to 2010 (0.1%). Chest pain is the only condition where readmission rates increased significantly.

“This is excellent news for Pennsylvania,” said Andy Carter, President and CEO of The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP). “The hospital community is gratified to see that day by day, year by year, we are saving more lives. That’s why we’re here.”

Carter also noted that lower readmission rates are good for patients, their pocketbooks, and efforts to reduce health care spending. “When people are healthy enough to stay out of the hospital, that means they are enjoying a better quality of life. Meanwhile, we are reducing the strain on household and government budgets.”

Pennsylvania hospitals worked together to improve quality, safety, and care coordination for about half of the conditions that had significant declines in mortality and readmission rates. As part of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Partnership for Patients initiative, HAP’s Pennsylvania Hospital Engagement Network supported more than two-thirds of hospitals in the state as they shared the best ways to improve care for heart failure, chest pain, pneumonia, COPD, and stroke.

“It’s great to see that this collective work is paying off in statewide and regional improvements,” said Michael J. Consuelos, MD, HAP’s senior vice president, clinical integration.

As part of a CMS-funded Hospital Improvement Innovation Network, Pennsylvania hospitals will continue to work collaboratively through 2019 to improve quality and safety and reduce readmissions. HAP was one of just 16 organizations nationwide to receive this funding.

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