Evaluation of an Automated Text Message-Based Program to Reduce Use of Acute Health Care Resources After Hospital Discharge

Link to article at PubMed

JAMA Netw Open. 2022 Oct 3;5(10):e2238293. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.38293.


IMPORTANCE: Posthospital contact with a primary care team is an established pillar of safe transitions. The prevailing model of telephone outreach is usually limited in scope and operationally burdensome.

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether a 30-day automated texting program to support primary care patients after hospital discharge is associated with reductions in the use of acute care resources.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: This cohort study used a difference-in-differences approach at 2 academic primary care practices in Philadelphia from January 27 through August 27, 2021. Established patients of the study practices who were 18 years or older, were discharged from an acute care hospitalization, and received the usual transitional care management telephone call were eligible for the study. At the intervention practice, 604 discharges were eligible and 430 (374 patients, of whom 46 had >1 discharge) were enrolled in the intervention. At the control practice, 953 patients met eligibility criteria. The study period, including before and after the intervention, ran from August 27, 2020, through August 27, 2021.

EXPOSURE: Patients received automated check-in text messages from their primary care practice on a tapering schedule during the 30 days after discharge. Any needs identified by the automated messaging platform were escalated to practice staff for follow-up via an electronic medical record inbox.

MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: The primary study outcome was any emergency department (ED) visit or readmission within 30 days of discharge. Secondary outcomes included any ED visit or any readmission within 30 days, analyzed separately, and 30- and 60-day mortality. Analyses were based on intention to treat.

RESULTS: A total of 1885 patients (mean [SD] age, 63.2 [17.3] years; 1101 women [58.4%]) representing 2617 discharges (447 before and 604 after the intervention at the intervention practice; 613 before and 953 after the intervention at the control practice) were included in the analysis. The adjusted odds ratio (aOR) for any use of acute care resources after implementation of the intervention was 0.59 (95% CI, 0.38-0.92). The aOR for an ED visit was 0.77 (95% CI, 0.45-1.30) and for a readmission was 0.45 (95% CI, 0.23-0.86). The aORs for death within 30 and 60 days of discharge at the intervention practice were 0.92 (95% CI, 0.23-3.61) and 0.63 (95% CI, 0.21-1.85), respectively.

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: The findings of this cohort study suggest that an automated texting program to support primary care patients after hospital discharge was associated with significant reductions in use of acute care resources. This patient-centered approach may serve as a model for improving postdischarge care.

PMID:36287564 | DOI:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.38293

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