Potentially preventable hospitalizations among older adults: 2010-2014

Older Americans Who Are Black, Hispanic, or Medicaid-Eligible Are More Likely to Experience Preventable Hospitalizations

When complications due to diabetes, asthma, urinary tract infections, high blood pressure and other common conditions lead patients to visit the ER, researchers and health care quality administrators may label these visits as “potentially preventable hospitalizations.” That is, with good outpatient care, these visits could have been potentially avoided. Potentially preventable hospitalizations are costly and can negatively impact the health and well-being of individuals, particularly if they are older. Researchers examined national trends in PPH to see differences across racial and socioeconomic subpopulations, as well as county-level differences, using 2010-2014 Medicare claims data. Overall, PPH rates consistently declined across all subpopulations. However, they found that Black and Hispanic Americans had higher PPH rates compared to Whites. Additionally, those who also had Medicaid insurance had higher rates than those with only Medicare coverage.

This examination of county-level potentially preventable hospitalization trends can inform health and social policies to support groups identified to be at-risk of PPH. The primary care system needs to be accessible and affordable, particularly for populations who are at higher risk of PPH. Policies with financial incentives to increase the number of primary care physicians, especially in rural and low-income areas, can potentially improve health care access and reduce PPH among vulnerable populations.

Potentially Preventable Hospitalizations Among Older Adults: 2010-2014

Elham Mahmoudi, PhD, et al

University of Michigan, School of Medicine, Ann Arbor, Michigan