Should physicians be given an incentive to prevent readmissions?

Patient Safety Monitor Insider

December 9, 2009

Although Congress and President Barack Obama are considering incentives for hospitals to reduce their readmission rates, perhaps it is physicians who need the incentive. This sentiment was recently expressed by an essayist in the New York Times who said that because it is physicians who admit patients and who benefit financially from increased lengths of stay, it is they who need the motivation to do what they can to prevent patients from returning to the hospital.

The author, Sandeep Jauhar, MD, a cardiologist from Long Island, argues that because physicians are paid separately from hospitals by Medicare in the current system, they actually make more money when their patients stay longer in the hospital, as physicians can bill for each visit with a patient.

Although hospital readmissions are the result of many things like poor communication among healthcare providers and spotty follow-up care, the author suggests that providing physicians with a monetary incentive to prevent readmissions may be one piece of the puzzle.

To read more from the New York Times, click here.