Background: Responding to the shift toward value-based care, hospitals engaged in widespread experimentation of implementing transitional care (TC) strategies to improve patient experience and reduce unnecessary readmissions. However, which groups of these strategies are most strongly associated with better outcomes remains unknown. Methods: Using a retrospective longitudinal design, we collected hospitals' TC strategy implementation data for 370 U S. hospitals and obtained claims data for 2.4 million Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries hospitalized at them from 2009 to 2014. We applied estimated mixed-effects regression models controlling for patient, hospital, and community covariates to assess relationships between TC strategy groups and trends in hospitals’ 30-day hospital readmissions, with observation stay and mortality rates as secondary outcomes. Results: Hospitals' adoption of TC groups was associated with higher readmission rates at baseline and larger readmission rate reductions compared to not adopting any of 5 TC groups. The TC group including timely information exchange across care settings, engaging patients and caregivers in education, and/or identifying and addressing patients’ transition needs was associated with the largest reductions. Hospitals not implementing any of the 5 TC groups had higher mortality rates and lower observation stay rates throughout the study period. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that timely information sharing among providers across the care continuum and engaging patients in discharge planning and education may correspond with reduced readmissions. Implications: Our research suggests that hospitals responded to shifts in policy by implementing a diversity of TC strategy combinations; it also provides guidance regarding which combinations of TC strategies corresponded with larger readmission reductions.
- Health care utilization
- Health policy/politics/law/regulation
- Incentives in health care
- Quality of care/patient safety