Hospital Characteristics and 30-Day All-Cause Readmission Rates

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BACKGROUNDThe Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) publicly reports hospital-wide all-cause readmission rates, which are key indicators of quality and waste. Understanding hospital characteristics that are associated with lower readmission rates is important.OBJECTIVESThe main objective of this article is to identify hospital characteristics associated with lower readmission rates. Specifically, we focus on the relationship between hospitalist staffing levels, the level of physician integration, and physician ownership with hospital-wide all-cause readmissions.METHODSWe rely on data from CMS, American Hospital Association Annual Survey Database, and Area Health Resource File. We use ordinary least square regression to assess the association between readmission rates and hospitalist staffing levels, physician integration, physician ownership, and the presence of a medical home model, while controlling for key organizational and market factors such as registered nurse (RN) staffing levels and competition.RESULTSHigher hospitalist staffing levels, the fully integrated physician model, and physician ownership were associated with lower readmission rates. The addition of 1 hospitalist per general and surgical bed was associated with a 0.77 percentage-points decrease in adjusted 30-day all-cause readmission rates. Fully integrated hospitals had adjusted 30-day all-cause readmission rates 0.09 percentage points lower than non–fully integrated hospitals, and hospitals partially or fully owned by physicians had adjusted readmission rates 0.36 percentage points lower than non–physician-owned hospitals.CONCLUSIONSHospitals should focus on modifiable organizational factors that influence patient outcomes such as hospitalist and RN staffing levels and explore hospital-physician arrangements that result in the greatest alignment between hospital and physician incentives.

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