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New PHC4 Hospitalization Figures Emphasize the Importance of Primary and Preventive Care—Especially During a Pandemic

Harrisburg, PA – June 16, 2020 – According to a research brief released today by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4), approximately 1 in 9 hospitalizations (11.7%) were considered potentially preventable in FY 2019. Statewide there were 153,236 potentially preventable hospital admissions in FY 2019, totaling 711,298 hospital days.

“Continued attention to these hospitalizations is particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Joe Martin, PHC4’s Executive Director. “Delaying primary and preventive care during this time could increase the risk of hospitalization particularly for those suffering from chronic illnesses. Higher mortality rates among COVID-19 patients with underlying conditions remind us why primary and preventive care is so important,” added Martin.

Using a set of Prevention Quality Indicators developed by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), PHC4 identified hospital admissions for select conditions that might have been prevented with effective primary or preventive care.

Heart failure was the condition with the highest number of potentially preventable hospitalizations. At 54,676 admissions, heart failure encompassed 35.7% of the potentially preventable hospitalizations in FY 2019. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma in residents age 40 and older was the second highest condition at 28,742 admissions, and pneumonia was third highest at 20,472 admissions. Taken together these three conditions comprise 67.8% of the potentially preventable hospital admissions in FY 2019.

Statewide, there were 150.8 potentially preventable hospitalizations per 10,000 residents. Southeastern PA region had the highest rate at 160.3. The rate for Western PA was 158.0. Central and Northeastern PA region had the lowest rate at 129.4.

In general, population-based data showed higher rates of potentially preventable hospitalizations among older residents, black (non-Hispanic) residents and lower income residents:

  • For residents aged 75 and older, the rate was 603.4 per 10,000.
  • For black (non-Hispanic) residents, the rate was 264.7 per 10,000. The rates for white (non-Hispanic) and Hispanic residents were 143.9 and 83.7, respectively.
  • For lower income residents of all races, the rate was 263.6 per 10,000.
  • The rate was 154.2 for females and 147.3 for males.

County-level population-based rates are also included in the brief.

The brief is available on PHC4’s website at You can also link to it through social media on Facebook and Twitter.

PHC4 is an independent state agency charged with collecting, analyzing and reporting information that can be used to improve the quality and restrain the cost of health care in Pennsylvania.

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Harrisburg, PA 17101

Phone: (717) 232-6787
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