By JIM ANDERSON
IRON MOUNTAIN - Readmission rates for Dickinson County Healthcare System patients have been at or below the national average for the past year and the hospital will continue to receive full reimbursement from Medicare, hospital officials said Thursday.
Beginning this month, Medicare is fining hospitals that have too many patients readmitted within 30 days of discharge due to complications.
According to a recent Associated Press report, about two-thirds of hospitals serving Medicare patients may be hit with penalties this coming year.
Hospitals are required to submit readmission rate data to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on a regular basis, DCHS officials noted.
The penalty is currently capped at 1 percent of a hospital's Medicare payments. The overwhelming majority of penalized facilities will pay less. Also, for now, hospitals are only being measured on three medical conditions: heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia.
According to the AP, Medicare plans to post details online later this month. People can look up how their community hospitals performed by using the agency's "Hospital Compare" website.
Under the Affordable Care Act, penalties gradually will rise until 3 percent of Medicare payments are at risk. Medicare is considering holding hospitals accountable on four more measures: joint replacements, stenting, heart bypass and treatment of stroke.
In other action Thursday, the DCHS Board of Trustees:
- Authorized purchase of the T-System for the Emergency Department at a cost not to exceed $475,187. After researching the information system, DCHS officials estimate that the payback for the acquisition will be 19 months. According to the Dallas-based T-System, implementation of the program allows health care providers to spend more time with patients, improves care quality, reduces medical errors and organizational costs, and helps providers receive appropriate reimbursement for services provided. The current Emergency Department documentation system is largely paper-based. T-System currently serves about 40 percent of the emergency departments in the U.S.
- Received a financial report showing an operating loss of $151,095 in August. Year-to-date, the hospital system is showing operating income of $581,894. When interest and other expenses are included, total bottom line income year-to-date is $58,915.
- Approved an expenditure of $15,000 to purchase equipment at Cedar Hill-Bayside Clinic in Gladstone. Dr. Adina Anderson (podiatry) and Dr. Igor Siniakov (dermatology) hold clinics there on a regular basis.
- Approved spending $19,597 to upgrade the infant abduction alarm system at Dickinson County Memorial Hospital.
Jim Anderson's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.