Older adults with diabetes are at elevated risk of complications following hospitalization. Home health care services mitigate the risk of adverse events and facilitate a safe transition home. In the United States, when home health care services are prescribed, federal guidelines require they begin within two days of hospital discharge. This study examined the association between timing of home health care initiation and 30-day rehospitalization outcomes in a cohort of 786,734 Medicare beneficiaries following a diabetes-related index hospitalization admission during 2015. Of these patients, 26.6% were discharged to home health care. To evaluate the association between timing of home health care initiation and 30-day rehospitalizations, multivariate logistic regression models including patient demographics, clinical and geographic variables, and neighborhood socioeconomic variables were used. Inverse probability-weighted propensity scores were incorporated into the analysis to account for potential confounding between the timing of home health care initiation and the outcome in the cohort. Compared to the patients who received home health care within the recommended first two days, the patients who received delayed services (3-7 days after discharge) had higher odds of rehospitalization (OR, 1.28; 95% CI, 1.25-1.32). Among the patients who received late services (8-14 days after discharge), the odds of rehospitalization were four times greater than among the patients receiving services within two days (OR, 4.12; 95% CI, 3.97-4.28). Timely initiation of home health care following diabetes-related hospitalizations is one strategy to improve outcomes.
Keywords: chronic conditions; diabetes; health care access; home health care; inequalities or inequities; older adults; policy; race or ethnicity; rehospitalization; social determinants of health.