Study urges more effort to combat hospital readmissions

Researchers surveyed 500 U.S. hospitals, 90 percent of whom had a written objective of reducing readmissions related to heart problems.

Very fewer, however, had implemented a range of strategies to achieve that goal.

Among the recommended practices to cut readmissions are coordination with community physicians and other hospitals.

About half (49.3%) of the hospitals surveyed were in touch with local doctors on the issue, while roughly a quarter (23.5%) were in touch with other hospitals, according to the study.

Just over one-third (37.3%), meanwhile, alerted physicians within 48 hours of a heart patient's discharge from the hospital. Roughly that number (35.8%) assigned someone to follow up on test results post-discharge.

"Infrequent use of practices shown to reduce the rate of hospital readmission for heart failure may be attributable to a number of factors, including insufficient resources and constraints on staff time," the report stated.

"This suggests there is significant opportunity for continued improvement in communication and care coordination."