The Impact of Hospitalist Discontinuity on Hospital Cost, Readmissions, and Patient Satisfaction.

Journal of General Internal Medicine

PubMedID: 24435485

Turner J, Hansen L, Hinami K, Christensen N, Peng J, Lee J, Williams MV, O'Leary KJ. The Impact of Hospitalist Discontinuity on Hospital Cost, Readmissions, and Patient Satisfaction. J Gen Intern Med. 2014;29(7):1004-8.
BACKGROUND
Achieving patient-physician continuity is difficult in the inpatient setting, where care must be provided continuously. Little is known about the impact of hospital physician discontinuity on outcomes.

OBJECTIVE
To determine the association between hospital physician continuity and percentage change in median cost of hospitalization, 30-day readmission, and patient satisfaction with physician communication.

DESIGN
Retrospective observational study using various multivariable models to adjust for patient characteristics.

PARTICIPANTS
Patients admitted to a non-teaching hospitalist service in a large, academic, urban hospital between 6 July 2008 and 31 December 2011.

MAIN MEASURES
We used two measures of continuity: the Number of Physicians Index (NPI), and the Usual Provider of Continuity (UPC) index. The NPI is the total number of unique physicians caring for a patient, while the UPC is calculated as the largest number of patient encounters with a single physician, divided by the total number of encounters. Outcome measures were percentage change in median cost of hospitalization, 30-day readmissions, and top box responses to satisfaction with physician communication.

KEY RESULTS
Our analyses included data from 18,375 hospitalizations. Lower continuity was associated with modest increases in costs (range 0.9-12.6 % of median), with three of the four models used achieving statistical significance. Lower continuity was associated with lower odds of readmission (OR?=?0.95-0.98 across models), although only one of the models achieved statistical significance. Satisfaction with physician communication was lower, with less continuity across all models, but results were not statistically significant.

CONCLUSIONS
Hospital physician discontinuity appears to be associated with modestly increased hospital costs. Hospital physicians may revise plans as they take over patient care responsibility from their colleagues.