Association of Variation in Consultant Use Among Hospitalist Physicians With Outcomes Among Medicare Beneficiaries.

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Association of Variation in Consultant Use Among Hospitalist Physicians With Outcomes Among Medicare Beneficiaries.

JAMA Netw Open. 2020 Feb 05;3(2):e1921750

Authors: Stevens JP, Hatfield LA, Nyweide DJ, Landon B

Abstract
Importance: Evidence is lacking on the consequences of high rates of inpatient consultation.
Objective: To examine outcomes and resource use of patients cared for by hospitalists who use more inpatient consultation than their colleagues.
Design, Setting, and Participants: A retrospective cohort study of medical admissions to hospitalists among fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries was conducted. Hospitalist consultation tendency was identified from January 1, 2013, to December 31, 2014; admissions were calculated in 2013; and outcomes were measured in 2014. Data were analyzed from January 31, 2017, to May 9, 2019. A total of 711 654 admissions with patients receiving care from 14 584 hospitalists at 737 hospitals were included.
Exposure: Admission to high-consulting hospitalists, considered to be those who were in the top 25% of the distribution of consulting frequency at their own hospital (adjusted for patient case mix).
Main Outcomes and Measures: Outcomes included length of stay, Medicare Part B inpatient charges, discharge destination, all-cause 7- and 30-day readmissions, 90-day outpatient specialist visits, and 30-day mortality.
Results: The 711 654 hospital admissions included 408 489 women (57.4%); mean (SD) age of the population was 80 (8.5) years. Length of stay of patients cared for by high-consulting hospitalists was longer compared with other hospitalists (adjusted incidence rate ratio, 1.04; 95% CI, 1.03-1.05). The admissions resulted in a mean of $137.91 (95% CI, $118.89-$156.93) more in Medicare Part B charges and were less likely to end with the patient going home (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 0.96; 95% CI, 0.94-0.98) compared with patients cared for by other hospitalists in the cohort. Patients cared for by high-consulting hospitalists also were 7% more likely than patients cared for by other hospitalists to see an outpatient specialist at 90 days (aOR 1.07; 95% CI, 1.05-1.09), with no significant differences in 30-day mortality (aOR 1.01, 95% CI, 0.98-1.03) or readmissions (7-day readmissions: aOR 1.01; 95% CI, 0.98-1.03; 30-day readmissions: aOR, 1.01; 95% CI, 0.99-1.03).
Conclusions and Relevance: Hospitalists who obtain consultations more than their colleagues at the same institution were associated with greater use of health care resources without apparent mortality benefit. Further investigation should identify whether reducing high rates of consultation can reduce resource use without harming patients.

PMID: 32083694 [PubMed - in process]

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