Conference Coverage

What drives readmissions within 90 days after MI hospitalization


– In a large population of Medicare patients hospitalized for acute MI, four factors stood out as predictors of increased likelihood of readmission within 90 days, Aaron D. Kugelmass, MD, reported at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology.

These four predictors of 90-day readmission were end-stage renal disease at the time of the initial admission for MI, which in a logistic regression model was independently associated with an 88% relative increase in readmission risk; no percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) during the index hospitalization, which carried a 64% increase in risk; type 1 diabetes, with a 57% increased readmission rate; and heart failure at the initial hospitalization, with an associated 34% greater risk, according to Dr. Kugelmass, chief of cardiology and medical director of the heart and vascular center at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Mass.

Bruce Jancin/Frontline Medical News

Dr. Aaron D. Kugelmass

This is important new information for cardiologists and hospital administrators as they gear up for Medicare’s planned introduction of an episodic bundled payment model for patients with acute MI. In the initial phase of the project, which starts in July, approximately 1,120 hospitals in 98 metropolitan areas will be required to take financial responsibility for all inpatient and outpatient costs accrued during a Medicare beneficiary’s initial hospitalization for acute MI and for 90 days post discharge. The hospitals will be paid a fixed target price for each bundled 90-day acute MI care episode. The intent is to provide incentives for hospitals, physicians, and other health care providers to improve coordination of care with a goal of improved quality at reduced cost.

“This is going to be a learning curve for everyone,” he said.

“The best way to deal with this change is to understand the factors driving costs and morbidity and mortality,” Dr. Kugelmass said, in explaining why he conducted a retrospective study of readmissions within 90 days in a population of 143,286 Medicare beneficiaries hospitalized for acute MI in 2014. The study focus was on readmissions because they add so much to total cost of care for a 90-day episode.

Twenty-eight percent of patients were readmitted at least once within 90 days of discharge following their acute MI. The Medicare bundled payment plan divides MI patients into two separate groups: those who undergo PCI during their initial hospitalization and those who receive medical management only. Thirty-one percent of the readmitted patients in Dr. Kugelmass’s study had undergone PCI during their index hospitalization, while the other 69% were managed medically.

Heart failure was the No. 1 reason for readmission within 90 days in patients who had PCI during the index hospitalization. It was the primary reason for 17.6% of readmissions. Next came recurrent angina or chest pain, which accounted for 6.6% of readmissions; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or pneumonia, 6.3%; and GI bleeding with hemorrhage, which was the primary reason for 6.0% of readmissions. Together these four causes accounted for more than 36% of all readmissions in the PCI group.

“The GI bleeding data were really interesting,” the cardiologist said. “There’s a lot of talk now about reducing the duration of dual-antiplatelet therapy [DAPT] after PCI. This is an administrative data set that’s quite large, and it shows that GI bleeding in a post-PCI group early in the duration of DAPT is in fact a significant cause of readmission and poses significant hazard.”

Among patients who were medically managed during their index hospitalization, the top four reasons for readmission were heart failure, accounting for 20.6% of readmissions; cardiac surgery, 13.5%; sepsis, 7.8%; and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease/pneumonia, 6.3%. GI bleeding wasn’t a significant cause of readmission in this group.

“I think what we need to do next is dive deeper into the medically managed group. There is a cohort in there that’s incredibly sick and are likely to drive costs and be prone to readmission. And there’s another component of the medically managed group that had to be fairly healthy because they were able to undergo coronary artery bypass surgery within 90 days,” Dr. Kugelmass said.

He reported having no financial conflicts regarding his study.

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