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Dual health care system use is associated with higher rates of hospitalization and hospital readmission among veterans with heart failure.

Axon RN, Gebregziabher M, Everett CJ, Heidenreich P, Hunt KJ. Dual health care system use is associated with higher rates of hospitalization and hospital readmission among veterans with heart failure. American heart journal. 2016 Apr 1; 174:157-63.

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BACKGROUND: Heart failure (HF) frequently causes hospital admission and readmission. Patients receiving care from multiple providers and facilities (dual users) may risk higher health care utilization and worse health outcomes. METHODS: To determine rates of emergency department (ED) visits, hospitalizations, and hospital readmissions relative to dual use among HF patients, we analyzed a retrospective cohort of 13,977 veterans with HF hospitalized at the Veterans Affairs (VA) or non-VA facilities from 2007 to 2011; we analyzed rates of acute health care utilization using zero-inflated negative binomial regression. RESULTS: Compared to VA-only users and dual users, individuals receiving all of their ED and hospital care outside the VA tended to be older, more likely to be non-Hispanic white and married, and less likely to have high levels of service connected disability. Compared to VA-only users, dual users had significantly higher rates of ED visits for HF as a primary diagnosis (adjusted rate ratio 1.15, 95% CI 1.04-1.27), hospitalization for HF (adjusted rate ratio 1.4, 95% CI 1.26-1.56), hospital readmission after HF hospitalization (all cause) (1.46, 95% CI 1.30-1.65), and HF-specific hospital readmission after HF hospitalization (1.46, 95% CI 1.31-1.63). With the exception of hospitalization for any primary diagnosis, non-VA-only users had significantly lower rates of ED visits, hospitalization, and readmission compared to VA-only users. CONCLUSIONS: Dual use is associated with higher rates of health care utilization among patients with HF. Interventions should be devised to encourage continuity of care where possible and to improve the effectiveness and safety of dual use in instances where it is necessary or desired.

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