Effectiveness of Telemedicine Visits in Reducing 30-Day Readmissions Among Patients With Heart Failure During the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Background The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a rapid implementation of telemedicine into clinical practice. This study examined whether early outpatient follow-up via telemedicine is as effective as in-person visits for reducing 30-day readmissions in patients with heart failure. Methods and Results Using electronic health records from a large health system, we included patients with heart failure living in North Carolina (N=6918) who were hospitalized between March 16, 2020 and March 14, 2021. All-cause readmission within 30 days after discharge was examined using weighted logistic regression models. Overall, 7.6% (N=526) of patients received early telemedicine follow-up, 38.8% (N=2681) received early in-person follow-up, and 53.6% (N=3711) did not receive follow-up within 14 days of discharge. Compared with patients without early follow-up, those who received early follow-up were younger, were more likely to be Medicare beneficiaries, had more comorbidities, and were less likely to live in an disadvantaged neighborhood. Relative to in-person visits, those with telemedicine follow-up were of similar age, sex, and race but with generally fewer comorbidities. Overall, the 30-day readmission rate (19.0%) varied among patients who received telemedicine visits (15.0%), in-person visits (14.0%), or no follow-up (23.1%). After covariate adjustment, patients who received either telemedicine (odds ratio [OR], 0.55; 95% CI, 0.44-0.72) or in-person (OR, 0.52; 95% CI, 0.45-0.60) visits were similarly less likely to be readmitted within 30 days compared with patients with no follow-up. Conclusions During the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of telemedicine visits for early follow-up increased rapidly. Patients with heart failure who received outpatient follow-up either via telemedicine or in-person had better outcomes than those who received no follow-up.
Xu, H; Granger, BB; Drake, CD; Peterson, ED; Dupre, ME
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