Impact of Race/Ethnicity and Socioeconomic Status on Risk-Adjusted Hospital Readmission Rates Following Hip and Knee Arthroplasty

Published in: The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, v. 98, no. 16, Aug. 2016, p. 1385-1391

Posted on RAND.org on September 13, 2016

by Grant Martsolf, Marguerite L Barrett, Audrey J. Weiss, Ryan Kandrack, Raynard Washington, Ateev Mehrotra, Nelson F. SooHoo, Rosanna M. Coffey

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BACKGROUND: Readmission rates following total hip arthroplasty (THA) and total knee arthroplasty (TKA) are increasingly used to measure hospital performance. Readmission rates that are not adjusted for race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status, patient risk factors beyond a hospital's control, may not accurately reflect a hospital's performance. In this study, we examined the extent to which risk-adjusting for race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status affected hospital performance in terms of readmission rates following THA and TKA. METHODS: We calculated 2 sets of risk-adjusted readmission rates by (1) using the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services standard risk-adjustment algorithm that incorporates patient age, sex, comorbidities, and hospital effects and (2) adding race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status to the model. Using data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, 2011 State Inpatient Databases, we compared the relative performances of 1,194 hospitals across the 2 methods. RESULTS: Addition of race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status to the risk-adjustment algorithm resulted in (1) little or no change in the risk-adjusted readmission rates at nearly all hospitals; (2) no change in the designation of the readmission rate as better, worse, or not different from the population mean at >99% of the hospitals; and (3) no change in the excess readmission ratio at >97% of the hospitals. CONCLUSIONS: Inclusion of race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status in the risk-adjustment algorithm led to a relative-performance change in readmission rates following THA and TKA at <3% of the hospitals. We believe that policymakers and payers should consider this result when deciding whether to include race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status in risk-adjusted THA and TKA readmission rates used for hospital accountability, payment, and public reporting.

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