How Virtual Reality Can Help Decrease Readmission Rates

VR in Healthcare

On October 2012 Medicare launched the Hospital Readmission Reduction Program (HRRP), whose sole objective is to increase the quality of healthcare services by giving hospitals a strong financial incentive to work better with caregivers on post-charging planning. These efforts are targeted to decrease the number of readmissions in hospitals. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) use the Excess Readmission Ratio (ERR) to measure the performance of the hospital for the following six conditions in the program:

  • Acute Myocardial Infraction
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
  • Heart Failure
  • Pneumonia
  • Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery
  • Elective Primary Total Hip Arthroplasty and/or Total Knee Arthroplasty

Although the program has been able to reduce the percentage of hospitals that face new penalties from 93% in 2012 to 90% in 2018, and the average penalty from 0.92% to 0.83%, in the same period, it’s still not enough to decrease the number of patients that get readmitted into the hospital within 30 days of being discharged (Dinerstein, 2018). Payments to hospitals are expected to decrease by $566 million USD in 2019, according to Medicare (Fontana, 2018).

A research published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that in 2009 almost one fifth (19.6%) of all Medicare beneficiaries were hospitalized within 30 days of being originally discharged. Moreover, 70.5% of those patients were re-hospitalized for a medical condition, which may be a consequence of a bad communication between the medical team and the after-care team of doctors (Jencks et al., 2009)

According to data from CMS’ database, only in the state of Massachusetts the average number of readmissions is 57 (max = 226, min = 11) and the average cost per readmission is $1,780. This means that a hospital can experience readmission costs as high as $400,000. We have to add to this number the penalty for admission under the HRRP, which is 3% of the total reimbursement.

Several researches have looked into the most common reason why a patient needs to be hospitalized within the next 30 days of their original discharge. The three most common are:

  • Early discharge before patient is fully stable;
  • Discharging to a location that can’t support total recovery; and,
  • Recurrence or worsening of original disease because of poor patient compliance.

Virtual Reality (VR) is increasing its popularity among doctors that are concerned with increasing their patient’s compliance. A study published in the Interactive Journal of Medical Research showed that it takes only 7 minutes of interactive and educational experience for a patient to increase compliance. From the 100 patients in the study, 40% reported to have completed their treatment (Park, A, 2019).

XRHealth has developed a platform that includes 9 in-house developed apps plus partner developed apps (VRHealth Platform) that create a fully immersive environment to make therapy fun and engaging. Doctors can track their patient’s progress with our Data Portal that provides full analytics and meaningful insights in real-time. Above all, VRHealth Platform is a cost-effective tool with which you can achieve a double-digit ROI within the first year of using it.

Feel free to contact us to get more information on how we can help reduce readmission penalties and improve your patient’s health.


Dinerstein, C. 2018. The Continuing Problem of Hospital Readmissions. Retrieved on July 2019, from: 

Fontana, E. 2018. Map: See the 2,599 hospitals that will face readmissions penalties this year. Retrieved on July 2019, from: 

Jencks, S.F., Williams, M.V., Coleman, E.A. 2009. Rehospitalizations among Patients in the Medicare Fee-for-Service Program, Retrieved on July 2019, from: Park, A. 7-minute VR experience significally increases HIV medication adherence. Becker’s Hospital Review. Retrieved on July 2019 from:

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