Hospital care represents the largest component of overall health care expenditures. Some hospitalizations can be potentially prevented with timely and effective ambulatory care. High admission rates for these potentially preventable conditions may indicate a need for improvements in access to ambulatory care and in the quality of care provided, as well as in patient adoption of healthy lifestyles and active self-management of chronic conditions. Thus, reducing the frequency of potentially preventable hospitalizations would be an effective strategy for lowering costs while improving quality of care and patient outcomes.
This Statistical Brief presents national data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) on rates and total costs of potentially preventable hospitalizations. Distribution of the total costs by payer is also examined. Lastly, comparisons of potentially preventable hospitalization rates by median income level of patient’s ZIP Code are presented. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)’s Prevention Quality Indicators (PQIs)3 are used to identify hospitalizations for select chronic and acute conditions in adults and children for 2006. All differences between estimates noted in the text are statistically significant at the 0.05 level or better.