Background: Patients with complex care needs who require care across different health care settings are vulnerable to experiencing serious quality problems. A care transitions intervention designed to encourage patients and their caregivers to assert a more active role during care transitions may reduce rehospitalization rates.
Methods: Randomized controlled trial. Between September 1, 2002, and August 31, 2003, patients were identified at the time of hospitalization and were randomized to receive the intervention or usual care. The setting was a large integrated delivery system located in Colorado. Subjects (N = 750) included community-dwelling adults 65 years or older admitted to the study hospital with 1 of 11 selected conditions. Intervention patients received (1) tools to promote cross-site communication, (2) encouragement to take a more active role in their care and to assert their preferences, and (3) continuity across settings and guidance from a "transition coach." Rates of rehospitalization were measured at 30, 90, and 180 days.
Results: Intervention patients had lower rehospitalization rates at 30 days (8.3 vs 11.9, P = .048) and at 90 days (16.7 vs 22.5, P = .04) than control subjects. Intervention patients had lower rehospitalization rates for the same condition that precipitated the index hospitalization at 90 days (5.3 vs 9.8, P = .04) and at 180 days (8.6 vs 13.9, P = .046) than controls. The mean hospital costs were lower for intervention patients ($2058) vs controls ($2546) at 180 days (log-transformed P = .049).
Conclusion: Coaching chronically ill older patients and their caregivers to ensure that their needs are met during care transitions may reduce the rates of subsequent rehospitalization.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00244491.