Practice Management

Patients’ perceptions and high hospital use


Background: A small proportion of patients accounts for a large proportion of hospital use and readmissions. As hospitals and hospitalists focus efforts to improve transitions of care, there is a paucity of data that incorporates patients’ perspectives into the design of these programs.

Dr. Danielle Richardson of the Division of Hospital Medicine, Duke University Health System, Durham, NC

Dr. Danielle Richardson

Study design: Qualitative research study.

Setting: Northwestern Memorial Hospital, a single urban academic medical center in Chicago.

Synopsis: Eligible patients had two unplanned 30-day readmissions within the prior 12 months in addition to one or more of the following: at least one readmission in the last 6 months; a referral from a patient’s medical provider; or at least three observation visits.

A research coordinator conducted one-on-one semistructured interviews. Each interview was recorded, transcribed, and then coded using a team-based approach; 26 patients completed the interview process. From the analysis, four major themes emerged: Major medical problems were universal but high hospital use onset varied; participants noted that fluctuations in their course were often related to social, economic, and psychological stressors; onset and progression of episodes seemed uncontrollable and unpredictable; participants preferred to avoid hospitalization and sought care when attempts at self-management failed. The major limitation of this study was the small sample size located at one medical center, creating a data pool that is potentially not generalizable to other medical centers. These findings, however, are an important reminder to focus our interventions with patients’ needs and perceptions in mind.

Bottom line: Frequently hospitalized patients have insights into factors contributing to their high hospital use. Engaging patients in this discussion can enable us to create sustainable patient-centered programs that avoid rehospitalization.

Citation: O’Leary KJ et al. Frequently hospitalized patients’ perceptions of factors contributing to high hospital use. J Hosp Med. 2019 Mar 20;14:e1-6.

Dr. Richardson is a hospitalist at Duke University Health System.

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