EvergreenHealth Leads the Puget Sound in Reducing Hospital Readmissions - Archived

The hospital is the only local full-service medical center to avoid Medicare penalties for five consecutive years, with the 2017 fines beginning last month

Kirkland, Wash. – EvergreenHealth Medical Center is the only full-service Puget Sound-area hospital to avoid Medicare readmission penalties for five straight years, according to recently released data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) and Kaiser Health News (KHN). The new Medicare fines run from October 2016 through September 2017.

This latest CMS-related achievement comes on the heels of EvergreenHealth earning the highest possible rating of five-stars in CMS’ Hospital Compare overall quality system rankings, released in October. The hospital has the only five-star rating from CMS in Washington state, and is one of only 112 across the country to achieve this honor.

According to the data, for financial year 2017 more than half of the 3,251 eligible U.S. hospitals are receiving some form of a penalty due to more patients than expected returning for additional care within a month of their initial stay. Only 10 percent of the participating facilities across the country reached the five-year mark with no penalties. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid launched the Hospital Readmission Reduction Program (HRRP) in 2010 to improve the quality of care for Medicare patients by incentivizing hospitals to reduce readmissions within 30 days of a hospital stay.

EvergreenHealth is one of two Western Washington health systems to achieve this accomplishment, and among just seven providers to reach this level of readmission rate efficiency statewide.

“Being the only full-service hospital in the Puget Sound to go without a readmission penalties for five consecutive years is a fantastic reflection of our health system’s patient-centered approach, which emphasizes safety, quality and partnering with our patients throughout their entire health care journey,” said EvergreenHealth CEO Bob Malte. “In today’s outcomes-driven environment, quality care is of the upmost importance, and this accomplishment is a reflection of our ability to provide consistent, effective and impactful health services to the communities we serve.”

Readmission rates across the country have decreased since the implementation of the CMS program. However, total penalties for hospitals increased 20 percent this year to $528 million, which is a new high for the Medicare initiative.

One key to EvergreenHealth’s success at consistently lowering readmissions is its Readmissions Reduction Program, which leverages advanced technology, processes and data analysis to yield insights and drive improvements in its patient care and outcomes. Among numerous strategies, the initiative includes:

  • An electronic medication ordering system to improve the delivery of correct medications to patients on admission and discharge
  • An electronic medical record system that organizes and highlights the necessary resources needed to discharge a patient
  • Dedicated RN care managers and outpatient service lines for patients with high-risk diagnoses
  • Evidence-based practices to predict readmission factors for common diagnoses; an
  • Mobile technology that equips patients with at-home care instructions and direct access to their rehabilitative care teams.

“It is a tremendous achievement to not only be amongst the best in our region, but also the nation, at providing efficient care and services. Our success in eliminating readmissions relies heavily on collaboration between our staff and providers to offer better health care built on quality, safety and an enhanced patient experience. This dedication to creating optimal patient health begins before a person is admitted and continues long after they leave, through an internal culture centered on safety, quality, experience and continued improvement, all of which ensure the populations we serve receive the coordinated, comprehensive care and treatment they need to recover, at a reasonable cost,” Malte continued.

The new penalties that began last month are based on the re-hospitalization rate for patients with these six common conditions: heart attacks, heart failure, pneumonia, chronic lung disease, hip and knee replacements, and coronary artery bypass graft surgery. The fines account for Medicare patients who left the hospital from July 2012 through June 2015, and hospitals with more unplanned readmissions than expected will receive a reduction in Medicare case reimbursements for the upcoming fiscal year.

For more information about EvergreenHealth’s commitment to quality, safety and exceptional care, visit .


About EvergreenHealth
EvergreenHealth is an integrated health care system that serves nearly one million residents in King and Snohomish counties and offers a breadth of services and programs that is among the most comprehensive in the region. More than 1,000 physicians provide clinical excellence in over 80 specialties, including heart and vascular care, oncology, surgical care, orthopedics, neurosciences, women’s and children’s services, pulmonary care and home care and hospice services. Formed as a public hospital district in 1972, EvergreenHealth includes a 318-bed acute care medical center in Kirkland, a network of 10 primary care practices, two urgent care centers, over two dozen specialty care practices and 24/7 emergency care at its Kirkland, Monroe, and Redmond campuses. In 2015, the system expanded to include EvergreenHealth Monroe – an accredited, full-service 74-bed public hospital district, established in 1960 in Monroe, Washington. EvergreenHealth has clinical and strategic partnerships with several health care entities, including Virginia Mason, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and dozens of independent practices that are part of the clinically integrated EvergreenHealth Partners network and the Puget Sound High Value Network. In addition to clinical care, EvergreenHealth offers extensive community health outreach and education programs, anchored by the 24/7 EvergreenHealth Nurse Navigator & Healthline.

In 2016, EvergreenHealth achieved its seventh designation (2009-2012, and 2014-2016) as a Distinguished Hospital for Clinical Excellence from Healthgrades®, placing it among the top 5 percent of hospitals nationwide, based on its outstanding clinical performance; and was named one of the nation’s 100 Top Hospitals® by Truven Health Analytics™ in the “Large Community Hospitals” category for outstanding achievements in patient care, operational efficiency and financial strength.
For more information, visit

Kay Taylor
Vice President, Marketing, Communications & PR EvergreenHealth
425.899.2604 or 

Nick McDonald
Firmani + Associates Inc.
206.443.9357 or