Health Policy. 2021 Jul 29:S0168-8510(21)00195-0. doi: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2021.07.009. Online ahead of print.
Past studies showed that hospital characteristics affect hospital performance in terms of 30-day unplanned readmissions, proving the existence of a "hospital effect". However, the stability over time of this effect has been under-investigated. This study offers new evidence about the stability over time of the hospital effect on 30-day unplanned readmissions. Using 78,907 heart failure (HF) records collected from 116 hospitals in the Lombardy Region (Northern Italy) over three years (2010-2012), this study analysed hospital performance in terms of 30-day unplanned readmissions. Hospitals with unusually high and low readmission rates were identified through multi-level regression that combined both patient and hospital covariates in each year. Our results confirm that although hospital covariates - and the connected managerial choices - affect the 30-day unplanned readmissions of a specific year, their effect is not stable in the short-term (3 years). This has important implications for pay-for-performance schemes and quality improvement initiatives.