Clinical question: Do higher rates of patient satisfaction lead to lower rates of hospital readmission?
Background: Readmissions account for 32.1% of total health care expenditures in the United States, of which 15%-20% are considered potentially preventable. Multiple studies have examined a variety of possible indicators of readmission, but rarely has patient perspective prior to discharge been examined.
Study design: Thematic interview and questionnaire.
Setting: Two inpatient medical units at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.
Synopsis: 846 patients were enrolled during their index admission with 201 of these patients being readmitted within 30 days of discharge. During the index admission, the patients completed a questionnaire developed by the authors and underwent a formal, thematic interview with identification of core domains performed by trained research coordinators. The primary outcome was 30-day readmission. Readmitted patients were less likely to have reported being “very satisfied” with their overall care (67.7% vs. 76.4%; P = .045) and were less likely to have reported that physicians “always listened” to them (65.7% vs. 73.2%; P = .048). Interestingly, if health care providers discussed the possible need for help after hospital stay, the patient had an increased risk of readmission (adjusted odds ratio, 1.56; 95% confidence interval, 1.02-2.39; P = .04) and patients who predicted they were “very likely” to require readmission were not more likely to be readmitted (aOR, 1.35; 95% CI, 0.83-2.19; P = .22). The major limitations of this study are that researchers interviewed only English-speaking patients who were able to participate in an in-depth interview and survey, perhaps resulting in a healthier-patient bias, as well as an inability to capture hospital admission at other institutions. Additionally, these patients are drawn from a tertiary-care service designed to care for medically complex cases and may not be generalizable to larger populations.
Bottom line: Lower rates of 30-day hospital readmission were associated with higher rates of patient satisfaction and a higher level of patient perception that providers were listening to them.
Citation: Carter J et al. The association between patient experience factors and likelihood of 30-day readmission: A prospective cohort study. BMJ Qual Saf. 2018 Sep;27:683-90.
Dr. Imber is an assistant professor in the division of hospital medicine, University of New Mexico.