Effects of Different Transitional Care Strategies on Outcomes after Hospital Discharge-Trust Matters, Too

Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2021 Oct 20;S1553-7250(21)00245-2. doi: 10.1016/j.jcjq.2021.09.012. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Background: As health systems shift toward value-based care, strategies to reduce readmissions and improve patient outcomes become increasingly important. Despite extensive research, the combinations of transitional care (TC) strategies associated with best patient-centered outcomes remain uncertain.

Methods: Using an observational, prospective cohort study design, Project ACHIEVE sought to determine the association of different combinations of TC strategies with patient-reported and postdischarge health care utilization outcomes. Using purposive sampling, the research team recruited a diverse sample of short-term acute care and critical access hospitals in the United States (N = 42) and analyzed data on eligible Medicare beneficiaries (N = 7,939) discharged from their medical/surgical units. Using both hospital- and patient-reported TC strategy exposure data, the project compared patients "exposed" to each of five overlapping groups of TC strategies to their "control" counterparts. Primary outcomes included 30-day hospital readmissions, 7-day postdischarge emergency department (ED) visits and patient-reported physical and mental health, pain, and participation in daily activities.

Results: Participants averaged 72.3 years old (standard deviation =10.1), 53.4% were female, and most were White (78.9%). Patients exposed to one TC group (Hospital-Based Trust, Plain Language, and Coordination) were less likely to have 30-day readmissions (risk ratio [RR], 0.72; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.57-0.92, p < 0.001) or 7-day ED visits (RR, 0.72; 95% CI, 0.55-0.93, p < 0.001) and more likely to report excellent physical and mental health, greater participation in daily activities, and less pain (RR ranged from 1.11 to 1.15, p < 0.01).

Conclusion: In concert with care coordination activities that bridge the transition from hospital to home, hospitals' clear communication and fostering of trust with patients were associated with better patient-reported outcomes and reduced health care utilization.

Keywords: Care transitions; Hospital Readmissions; Patient Communication; Trust.