Reducing hospital readmission is an important goal to optimize poststroke care and reduce costs. Early outpatient follow-up may represent one important strategy to reduce readmissions. We examined the association between time to first outpatient contact and readmission to inform postdischarge transitions.
We performed a retrospective cohort study of all Medicare fee-for-service patients discharged home after an acute ischemic stroke in 2012 identified by the InternationalClassification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification codes. Our primary predictor variable was whether patients had a primary care or neurology visit within 30 days of discharge. Our primary outcome variable was all-cause 30-day hospital readmission. We used separate multivariable Cox models with primary care and neurology visits specified as time-dependent covariates, adjusted for numerous patient- and systems-level factors. The cohort included 78 345 patients. Sixty-one percent and 16% of patients, respectively, had a primary care and neurology visit within 30 days of discharge. Visits occurred a median (interquartile range) 7 (4–13) and 15 (5–22) days after discharge for primary care and neurology, respectively. Thirty-day readmission occurred in 9.4% of patients. Readmissions occurred a median 14 (interquartile range, 7–21) days after discharge. Patients who had a primary care visit within 30 days of discharge had a slightly lower adjusted hazard of readmission than those who did not (hazard ratio, 0.98; 95% confidence interval, 0.97–0.98). The association was nearly identical for 30-day neurology visits (hazard ratio, 0.98; 95% confidence interval, 0.97–0.98).
Thirty-day outpatient follow-up was associated with a small reduction in hospital readmission among elderly patients with stroke discharged home. Further work should assess how outpatient care may be improved to further reduce readmissions.