Allocating Scarce Resources in Real Time to Reduce Heart Failure Readmissions: A Prospective, Controlled Study


The Issue

To reduce unnecessary hospital readmissions, experts suggest a combination of discharge planning, coordination among providers, and intensive counseling for patients. For many underresourced U.S. hospitals, however, it may be difficult to commit to such a rigorous care transition program for all patients. This Commonwealth Fund–supported study tests the theory that applying such programs only to those patients most at risk for rehospitalization may be a more effective strategy.

What the Study Found

The researchers identified hospitalized heart failure patients who were the most likely to be readmitted within 30 days by using a risk-prediction model based on 29 clinical, social, behavioral, and utilization factors in patients’ electronic medical records. These patients were targeted for an intensive set of counseling and monitoring activities, including detailed education and discharge planning, follow-up telephone calls, outpatient case management, and primary care and specialist follow-up appointments.

After the intervention, the overall 30-day readmission rate for heart failure patients fell from 26 percent to 21 percent. There was no significant change in readmission rates for patients with pneumonia or acute myocardial infarction, who were not included in the intervention.


Directing largely existing resources to a smaller subgroup of hospital patients based on their higher risk level produced a meaningful reduction in overall readmissions.

Publication Details

Publication Date: August 1, 2013
Authors: Ruben Amarasingham, Parag C. Patel, Kathleen Toto, Lauren L. Nelson, Timothy S. Swanson, Billy J. Moore, Bin Xie, Song Zhang, Kristin S Alvarez, Ying Ma, Mark H. Drazner, Usha Kollipara, and Ethan A. Halm
Summary Writer: Deborah Lorber

R. Amarasingham, P. C. Patel, K. Toto et al., "Allocating Scarce Resources in Real Time to Reduce Heart Failure Readmissions: A Prospective, Controlled Study," BMJ Quality & Safety, published online July 31, 2013.

View Full Article
Related Topics
Health Care Delivery

Forgot Password

An email has been sent to {{email}} with your reset password.

Account was not found. Please go to the login page and enter a new password.

Account was not found. Please try again with a different email address.

There was an error when attempting to send to {{email}}. Please contact an administrator.