President Obama Stretches Readmission Gains

The medical literature is apparently not immune to promotions and marketing. Graphics can be powerful at a time when few read between the lines - or read the lines at all. The following graphic was prepared for the President by CMS.

  • Note the use of only 2 points of change from 17.5 to 19.5 to enhance the apparent effect.
  • The change from 19% readmissions to 18% across this 2 percentage point difference generations a much steeper slope. 

Truncated graph - from wiki  A truncated graph (also known as a torn graph) has a y axis that does not start at 0. These graphs can create the impression of important change where there is relatively little change.

The other graphics presented by the President are more reasonable. For example the % uninsured has the full 0% to 25% represented graphically.

The big question arising from the claim of improvement with readmissions penalties is whether the previous payment system resulted in worsening of readmissions and perhaps other quality measures. Perhaps the DRG design was the problem as seen in patients sent home at times too soon, as seen in in marginalization of nurses, and as seen in overstressed home and primary care situations. 

Recent Posts and References 

Rallying One Hundred for Health Access Not MACRA

The Ultimate Government Health Care Paradox - Government must facilitate better EHRs and better health access, not prevent them.

Government Compromise of Trauma Response
No Positive Spin for the Innovator Tailspin - more claims for innovation successes are apparently attempts to hide failure
Stop the Promotion To Restore Mental Health Access - claims of mental health care reforms or improvements are a stark contrast from the reality of lowest payment, highest complexity of care, unreliable payment, and poor support other than lots of rhetoric

Primary care can be recovered and should be recovered, 
but cannot be recovered when moving the wrong directions

Robert C. Bowman, M.D.

The blogs represent the opinion of the blogger alone.


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