Dual Healthcare System Use During Episodes of Acute Care Heart Failure Associated With Higher Healthcare Utilization and Mortality Risk. Journal of the American Heart Association Axon, R. N., Gebregziabher, M., Everett, C. J., Heidenreich, P., Hunt, K. J. 2018; 7 (15): e009054


Background Individuals receiving cross-system care (dual users) have higher rates of healthcare utilization and worse outcomes for heart failure ( HF ) and other conditions. Individuals can be dual users or single-system users at different times, though, and little is known about utilization and mortality within discrete episodes of care. Methods and Results A retrospective cohort of 3439 patients with 5231 discrete episodes of HF exacerbation were identified between 2007 and 2011. Episodes encompassed the period from 2weeks before an initial HF emergency department ( ED ) visit or hospitalization, included any acute care visits within 30days after initial visit, and ended 30days after the last acute care visit in the episode chain. All-cause and HF -specific ED visits and hospitalization within 30days of index visit were analyzed using generalized estimating equations with robust variance. Hazard for death within episodes of acute illness was analyzed using Cox proportional hazards models. In adjusted analyses, dual use acute HF episodes were associated with higher odds of all-cause ED visits (odds ratio 1.61, 95% confidence interval [ CI ], 1.33, 1.95), HF -specific ED visits, (odds ratio 1.54, 95% CI , 1.12, 2.13), all-cause hospitalization (odds ratio 1.89, 95% CI , 1.50, 2.38), and HF -specific hospitalization (odds ratio 1.62, 95% CI , 1.15-2.30) as compared with Veterans Health Administration-only episodes of acute HF care. Dual use episodes of care were associated with higher hazard for mortality (hazard ratio=1.52, 95% CI 1.07, 2.16) as compared with all-Veterans Health Administration episodes of care. Conclusions Episodes of acute HF care spanning across healthcare systems appear to be associated with higher risk of subsequent ED visits, hospitalization, and mortality.

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