Impact of Hospital Teaching Intensity on Quality of Care and Patient Outcomes

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Abstract

Background:

Proposed changes to financing of teaching hospitals and new quality-based performance incentives may differentially impact the financial health of teaching and safety-net institutions. Few data have examined the potential impact of these financial changes on teaching institutions.

Objectives:

To determine the association of hospital teaching intensity with processes and outcomes of care for the most common inpatient diagnoses in the United States.

Research Design:

Cross-sectional analysis of the 2008 Hospital Quality Alliance and 2007 American Hospital Association databases, adjusted for hospital characteristics.

Subjects:

A total of 2418 hospitals distributed across the country with available data on teaching intensity (resident-to-bed ratio), quality-of-care process measures, and risk-adjusted readmission and mortality rates for acute myocardial infarction (AMI), congestive heart failure (CHF), and pneumonia.

Measures:

Hospital-level quality-of-care process indicators and 30-day risk-adjusted readmission and mortality rates for AMI, CHF, and pneumonia.

Results:

Multivariable analysis demonstrates that all hospitals perform uniformly well on quality-of-care process measures for AMI, CHF, and pneumonia. However, when compared with nonteaching hospitals, increasing hospital teaching intensity is significantly associated with improved risk-adjusted mortality for AMI and CHF, but higher risk-adjusted readmission rates for all 3 conditions. Among high teaching intensity hospitals, those with larger Medicaid populations (safety-net institutions) had particularly high readmission rates for AMI and CHF.

Conclusions:

In this nationally representative evaluation, we found significant variation in performance on risk-adjusted mortality and readmission rates, and differences in readmission rates based on safety-net status. Our findings suggest that high teaching intensity and safety-net institutions may be disproportionately affected by upcoming changes in hospital payment models.

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