Predictors of costs of caring for elderly patients discharged with heart failure.
BACKGROUND: Investments in programs to improve outcomes and reduce readmissions for patients who survive hospitalization with heart failure will be economically most favorable for those who have the highest risk. Little information is available, however, to stratify the risk of these patients incurring costs after discharge. In this study, we sought to determine correlates of costs in a representative sample of patients with heart failure in the 6 months after discharge. METHODS: We reviewed medical records of 2181 patients aged > or = 65 years who were discharged alive from 18 Connecticut hospitals in 1994 and 1995 with a principal discharge diagnosis of heart failure. Outcomes 6 months after discharge, including all-cause readmission and cost, heart failure-related readmission and cost, and death, were obtained from the Medicare administrative database. A 2-stage sample selection model was used to identify the independent correlates of cost. Risk scores were calculated to identify subsets of patients at risk for generating high costs. RESULTS: On average, patients discharged with heart failure incurred costs of $2388 resulting from heart failure-related admissions and $7101 resulting from admissions from any cause during the 6 months after discharge. An average admission for heart failure cost $7174, whereas an admission resulting from any cause cost $8589. The multivariate models explained 7% of the variation in cost, although clinical characteristics such as recent heart failure admissions, kidney failure, and hypertension were significant independent correlates of increased cost. Older age and a history of stroke were independently associated with decreased cost. Patients without any of the risk factors associated with increased costs still incurred $1500 to $5000, on average, in the 6 months after discharge. CONCLUSIONS: Patients with heart failure generate substantial hospital costs in the 6 months after discharge. Given the emerging evidence for effective programs to reduce readmission, investments in interventions that produce even modest reductions in risk would be economically favorable.
Wexler, DJ; Chen, J; Smith, GL; Radford, MJ; Yaari, S; Bradford, WD; Krumholz, HM
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