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Keywords:

  • Heart failure;
  • epidemiology;
  • outcomes research;
  • home health care

Objective

Patients with heart failure (HF) have high rates of rehospitalization. Home health care (HHC) patients with HF are not well studied in this regard. The objectives of this study were to determine patient, HHC agency, and geographic (i.e., area variation) factors related to 30-day rehospitalization in a national population of HHC patients with HF, and to describe the extent to which rehospitalizations were potentially avoidable.

Data Sources

Chronic Condition Warehouse data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Study Design

Retrospective cohort design.

Data Extraction

The 2005 national population of HHC patients was matched with hospital and HHC claims, the Provider of Service file, and the Area Resource File.

Principal Findings

The 30-day rehospitalization rate was 26 percent with 42 percent of patients having cardiac-related diagnoses for the rehospitalization. Factors with the strongest association with rehospitalization were consistent between the multilevel model and Cox proportional hazard models: number of prior hospital stays, higher HHC visit intensity category, and dyspnea severity at HHC admission. Substantial numbers of rehospitalizations were judged to be potentially avoidable.

Conclusions

The persistently high rates of rehospitalization have been difficult to address. There are health care-specific actions and policy implications that are worth examining to improve rehospitalization rates.