Although many hospital readmission reduction initiatives have been introduced globally, health care systems ultimately aim to improve patients’ health and well-being. We examined whether the hospitals that report greater success in reducing readmissions also see greater improvements in patient-reported outcomes.Research Design:
We examined hospital groups (Trusts) that provided hip replacement or knee replacement surgery in England between April 2010 and February 2013. For each Trust, we calculated risk-adjusted 30-day readmission rates from administrative datasets. We also obtained changes in patient-reported health between presurgical assessment and 6-month follow-up, using general health EuroQuol five dimensions questionaire (EQ-5D) and EuroQuol visual analogue scales (EQ-VAS) and procedure-specific (Oxford Hip and Knee Scores) measures. Panel models were used to assess whether changes over time in risk-adjusted readmission rates were associated with changes over time in risk-adjusted health gains.Results:
Each percentage point reduction in the risk-adjusted readmission rate for hip replacement was associated with an additional health gain of 0.004 for EQ-5D [95% confidence interval (CI), 0.002–0.006], 0.39 for EQ-VAS (95% CI, 0.26–0.52), and 0.32 for Oxford Hip Score (95% CI, 0.15–0.27). Corresponding figures for knee replacement were 0.003 for EQ-5D (95% CI, 0.001–0.004), 0.21 for EQ-VAS (95% CI, 0.12–0.30), and 0.14 in the Oxford Knee Score (95% CI, 0.09–0.20).Conclusions:
Reductions in readmission rates were associated with modest improvements in patients’ sense of their health and well-being at the hospital group level. In particular, fears that efforts to reduce readmission rates have had unintended consequences for patients appear to be unfounded.