Reducing Hospital Readmissions by Integrating Empirical Prediction with Resource Optimization Academic Article uri icon


  • 2015 Production and Operations Management Society. Hospital readmissions present an increasingly important challenge for health-care organizations. Readmissions are expensive and often unnecessary, putting patients at risk and costing $15 billion annually in the United States alone. Currently, 17% of Medicare patients are readmitted to a hospital within 30 days of initial discharge with readmissions typically being more expensive than the original visit to the hospital. Recent legislation penalizes organizations with a high readmission rate. The medical literature conjectures that many readmissions can be avoided or mitigated by post-discharge monitoring. To develop a good monitoring plan it is critical to anticipate the timing of a potential readmission and to effectively monitor the patient for readmission causing conditions based on that knowledge. This research develops new methods to empirically generate an individualized estimate of the time to readmission density function and then uses this density to optimize a post-discharge monitoring schedule and staffing plan to support monitoring needs. Our approach integrates classical prediction models with machine learning and transfer learning to develop an empirical density that is personalized to each patient. We then transform an intractable monitoring plan optimization with stochastic discharges and health state evolution based on delay-time models into a weakly coupled network flow model with tractable subproblems after applying a new pruning method that leverages the problem structure. Using this multi-methodologic approach on two large inpatient datasets, we show that optimal readmission prediction and monitoring plans can identify and mitigate 40-70% of readmissions before they generate an emergency readmission.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Helm, J. E., Alaeddini, A., Stauffer, J. M., Bretthauer, K. M., & Skolarus, T. A.

citation count

  • 53

complete list of authors

  • Helm, Jonathan E||Alaeddini, Adel||Stauffer, Jon M||Bretthauer, Kurt M||Skolarus, Ted A

publication date

  • February 2016