Timeliness of outpatient Follow-Up: An Evidence-Based approach for planning after hospital discharge

Journal Article

© 2015, Annals of Family Medicine, Inc. All right reserved.PURPOSE Timely outpatient follow-up has been promoted as a key strategy to reduce hospital readmissions, though one-half of patients readmitted within 30 days of hospital discharge do not have follow-up before the readmission. Guidance is needed to identify the optimal timing of hospital follow-up for patients with conditions of varying complexity. METHODS Using North Carolina Medicaid claims data for hospital-discharged patients from April 2012 through March 2013, we constructed variables indicating whether patients received follow-up visits within successive intervals and whether these patients were readmitted within 30 days. We constructed 7 clinical risk strata based on 3M Clinical Risk Groups (CRGs) and determined expected readmission rates within each CRG. We applied survival modeling to identify groups that appear to benefit from outpatient follow-up within 3, 7, 14, 21, and 30 days after discharge. RESULTS The final study sample included 44,473 Medicaid recipients with 65,085 qualifying discharges. The benefit of early follow-up varied according to baseline readmission risk. For example, follow-up within 14 days after discharge was associated with 1.5%-point reduction in readmissions in the lowest risk strata (P <.001) and a 19.1%-point reduction in the highest risk strata (P <.001). Follow- up within 7 days was associated with meaningful reductions in readmission risk for patients with multiple chronic conditions and a greater than 20% baseline risk of readmission, a group that represented 24% of discharged patients. CONCLUSIONS Most patients do not meaningfully benefit from early outpatient follow-up. Transitional care resources would be best allocated toward ensuring that highest risk patients receive follow-up within 7 days.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Jackson, C; Shahsahebi, M; Wedlake, T; Dubard, CA

Published Date

  • 2015

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 13 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 115 - 122

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1544-1709

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1370/afm.1753