Patient Factors Linked With Return Acute Healthcare Use in Older Adults by Discharge Disposition

Abstract [from journal]

Objectives: Compare patient characteristics by hospital discharge disposition (home without services, home with home healthcare (HHC) services, or post-acute care (PAC) facilities). Examine timing and rates of 30-day healthcare utilization (rehospitalization, emergency department (ED) visit, or observation (OBS) visit) and patient characteristics associated with rehospitalization by discharge location.

Design: Retrospective analysis of hospital administrative and clinical data.

Setting and participants: A total of 3,294 older adult inpatients discharged home with or without HHC services or to a PAC facility.

Measurements: Patient-level sociodemographic and clinical characteristics. Number of and time to occurrences of rehospitalization or ED/OBS visit within 30 days of hospital discharge.

Results: Most rehospitalizations and ED/OBS visits occurred within 14 days from hospital discharge. Patients who returned within 24 hours came mostly from inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRFs). More intense levels of PAC services were linked with higher rehospitalization risk. However, specific predictors differed by discharge location. Being unemployed, being single, and having more comorbidities were most associated with rehospitalization in those who went home with or without services, whereas patients rehospitalized from IRFs were younger, with less chronic illness burden, but greater and recent functional decline. Those discharged with HHC services had more return ED/OBS visits.

Conclusions: Although sicker patients were referred for more intense levels of PAC services, patients with greater chronic illness burden were still most often rehospitalized. In addition to unique patient differences, rehospitalizations from IRF within 24 hours suggest systems factors are contributory. Most return acute healthcare utilization occurred within 14 days; therefore, interventions should focus on smoothing transitions to all discharge locations. Because predictors of rehospitalization risk differed by discharge disposition, future research is necessary to study approaches aimed at matching patients' care needs with the most suitable PAC services at the right time.