By Christine Kern, contributing writer
Database will be valuable for healthcare analyses and decision-making.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has announced the launch of the first-ever Nationwide Readmission Database (NRD), party of the AHRQ-sponsored Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP), a group of related databases that includes information from administrative billing data.
The NRD is the first all-payer nationwide database to track hospital readmissions, which remains a critical health policy issue. According to the AHRQ, “The value of the NRD is illustrated in a new HCUP Statistical Brief examining trends in hospital readmission for four high-volume conditions: congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart attack, and pneumonia.” The brief found there were 500,000 readmissions for these four conditions, costing $6.8 billion in 2013.
The NRD can be used by researchers to create estimates of national readmission rates for all payers and uninsured. This database addresses a large gap in healthcare data — the lack of nationally representative information on hospital readmissions for all ages. Unweighted, the NRD contains data from approximately 14 million discharges each year. Weighted, it estimates roughly 36 million discharges.
HCUP databases include information on 97 percent of all U.S. hospital discharges. The NRD promotes comparative studies of health care services and supports health care policy and research on a variety of topics, including national readmission rates by diagnosis, procedure, patient demographics, or expected payment source; costs associated with readmissions; reasons for readmissions; impact of health policy changes; quality of care; access to care; and utilization of health services by special populations, including the uninsured.