Association of Patient Social, Cognitive, and Functional Risk Factors with Preventable Hospitalizations: Implications for Physician Value-Based Payment

Kenton J. Johnston, Hefei Wen, Mario Schootman, Karen E. Joynt Maddox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Ambulatory care-sensitive condition (ACSC) hospitalizations are used to evaluate physicians’ performance in Medicare value-based payment programs. However, these measures may disadvantage physicians caring for vulnerable populations because they omit social, cognitive, and functional factors that may be important determinants of hospitalization. Objective: To determine whether social, cognitive, and functional risk factors are associated with ACSC hospitalization rates and whether adjusting for them changes outpatient safety-net providers’ performance. Design: Using data from the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey, we conducted patient-level multivariable regression to estimate the association (as incidence rate ratios (IRRs)) between patient-reported social, cognitive, and functional risk factors and ACSC hospitalizations. We compared outpatient safety-net and non-safety-net providers’ performance after adjusting for clinical comorbidities alone and after additional adjustment for social, cognitive, and functional factors captured in survey data. Setting: Safety-net and non-safety-net clinics. Participants: Community-dwelling Medicare beneficiaries contributing 38,616 person-years from 2006 to 2013. Measurements: Acute and chronic ACSC hospitalizations. Results: After adjusting for clinical comorbidities, Alzheimer’s/dementia (IRR 1.30, 95% CI 1.02–1.65), difficulty with 3–6 activities of daily living (ADLs) (IRR 1.43, 95% CI 1.05–1.94), difficulty with 1–2 instrumental ADLs (IADLs, IRR 1.54, 95% CI 1.26–1.90), and 3–6 IADLs (IRR 1.90, 95% CI 1.49–2.43) were associated with acute ACSC hospitalization. Low income (IRR 1.28, 95% CI 1.03–1.58), lack of educational attainment (IRR 1.33, 95% CI 1.04–1.69), being unmarried (IRR 1.18, 95% CI 1.01–1.36), difficulty with 1–2 IADLs (IRR 1.30, 95% CI 1.05–1.60), and 3–6 IADLs (IRR 1.44, 95% CI 1.16–1.80) were associated with chronic ACSC hospitalization. Adding these factors to standard Medicare risk adjustment eliminated outpatient safety-net providers’ performance gap (p <.05) on ACSC hospitalization rates relative to non-safety-net providers. Conclusions: Social, cognitive, and functional risk factors are independently associated with ACSC hospitalizations. Failure to account for them may penalize outpatient safety-net providers for factors that are beyond their control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1645-1652
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Volume34
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 15 2019

Keywords

  • Medicare
  • physician value-based payment
  • safety-net providers

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