Adding socioeconomic data to hospital readmissions calculations may produce more useful results

Elna M. Nagasako, Mat Reidhead, Brian Waterman, W. Claiborne Dunagan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


To better understand the degree to which risk-standardized thirty-day readmission rates may be influenced by social factors, we compared results for hospitals in Missouri under two types of models. The first type of model is currently used by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for public reporting of condition-specific hospital readmission rates of Medicare patients. The second type of model is an "enriched" version of the first type of model with census tract-level socioeconomic data, such as poverty rate, educational attainment, and housing vacancy rate. We found that the inclusion of these factors had a pronounced effect on calculated hospital readmission rates for patients admitted with acute myocardial infarction, heart failure, and pneumonia. Specifically, the models including socioeconomic data narrowed the range of observed variation in readmission rates for the above conditions, in percentage points, from 6.5 to 1.8, 14.0 to 7.4, and 7.4 to 3.7, respectively. Interestingly, the average readmission rates for the three conditions did not change significantly between the two types of models. The results of our exploratory analysis suggest that further work to characterize and report the effects of socioeconomic factors on standardized readmission measures may assist efforts to improve care quality and deliver more equitable care on the part of hospitals, payers, and other stakeholders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)786-791
Number of pages6
JournalHealth Affairs
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2014


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