National Survey of Hospital Strategies to Reduce Heart Failure Readmissions Findings From the Get With the Guidelines-Heart Failure Registry

1 Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC
Circulation Heart Failure (Impact Factor: 5.89). 08/2012; 5(6). DOI: 10.1161/CIRCHEARTFAILURE.112.967406
Source: PubMed


Reducing 30-day heart failure readmission rates is a national priority. Yet, little is known about how hospitals address the problem and whether hospital-based processes of care are associated with reductions in readmission rates.

Methods and results:
We surveyed 100 randomly selected hospitals participating in the Get With the Guidelines-Heart Failure quality improvement program regarding common processes of care aimed at reducing readmissions. We grouped processes into 3 domains (ie, inpatient care, discharge and transitional care, and general quality improvement) and scored hospitals on the basis of survey responses using processes selected a priori. We used linear regression to examine associations between these domain scores and 30-day risk-standardized readmission rates. Of the 100 participating sites, 28% were academic centers and 64% were community hospitals. The median readmission rate among participating sites (24.0%; 95% CI, 22.6%-25.7%) was comparable with the national average (24.6%; 23.5-25.9). Sites varied substantially in care processes used for inpatient care, education, discharge process, care transitions, and quality improvement. Overall, neither inpatient care nor general quality improvement domains were associated with 30-day readmission rates. Hospitals in the lowest readmission rate quartile had modestly higher discharge and transitional care domain scores (P=0.03).

A variety of strategies are used by hospitals in an attempt to improve 30-day readmission rates for patients hospitalized with heart failure. Although more complete discharge and transitional care processes may be modestly associated with lower 30-day readmission rates, most current strategies are not associated with lower readmission rates.

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    ABSTRACT: Background: Reducing hospital readmission rates is a national priority; however, evidence about hospital strategies that are associated with lower readmission rates is limited. We sought to identify hospital strategies that were associated with lower readmission rates for patients with heart failure. Methods and results: Using data from a Web-based survey of hospitals participating in national quality initiatives to reduce readmission (n=599; 91% response rate) during 2010-2011, we constructed a multivariable linear regression model, weighted by hospital volume, to determine strategies independently associated with risk-standardized 30-day readmission rates (RSRRs) adjusted for hospital teaching status, geographic location, and number of staffed beds. Strategies that were associated with lower hospital RSRRs included the following: (1) partnering with community physicians or physician groups to reduce readmission (0.33% percentage point lower RSRRs; P=0.017), (2) partnering with local hospitals to reduce readmissions (0.34 percentage point; P=0.020), (3) having nurses responsible for medication reconciliation (0.18 percentage point; P=0.002), (4) arranging follow-up appointments before discharge (0.19 percentage point; P=0.037), (5) having a process in place to send all discharge paper or electronic summaries directly to the patient's primary physician (0.21 percentage point; P=0.004), and (6) assigning staff to follow up on test results that return after the patient is discharged (0.26 percentage point; P=0.049). Although statistically significant, the magnitude of the effects was modest with individual strategies associated with less than half a percentage point reduction in RSRRs; however, hospitals that implemented more strategies had significantly lower RSRRs (reduction of 0.34 percentage point for each additional strategy). Conclusions: Several strategies were associated with lower hospital RSRRs for patients with heart failure.
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