Ask most any health care expert what single factor drives up the nation's healthcare bill unnecessarily, and they'll tell you this: patients who are re-admitted to the hospital within less than 30 days of being discharged.

Now, a report by the Northeast Business Group on Health confirms what those in the field know all too well: It takes a collaborative effort among many stakeholders to reduce those costly trips.

"Hospitals, providers and health plans need to share timely data and take a coordinated approach to care management encompassing pre-admissions and post-discharge care in order to reduce unnecessary hospital readmissions," NEBGH says in its report, "Reducing Hospital Readmissions through Stakeholder Collaboration." More than 1 million Americans wind up back in the hospital only weeks after they left for reasons that could have been prevented — a revolving door that for years has seemed impossible to slow.

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Dan Cook

Dan Cook is a journalist and communications consultant based in Portland, OR. During his journalism career he has been a reporter and editor for a variety of media companies, including American Lawyer Media, BusinessWeek, Newhouse Newspapers, Knight-Ridder, Time Inc., and Reuters. He specializes in health care and insurance related coverage for BenefitsPRO.