Continuity and the costs of care for chronic disease

Peter S. Hussey, Eric C. Schneider, Robert S. Rudin, D. Steven Fox, Julie Lai, Craig Evan Pollack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

167 Scopus citations


IMPORTANCE Better continuity of care is expected to improve patient outcomes and reduce health care costs, but patterns of use, costs, and clinical complications associated with the current patterns of care continuity have not been quantified. OBJECTIVE To measure the association between care continuity, costs, and rates of hospitalizations, emergency department visits, and complications for Medicare beneficiaries with chronic disease. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS Retrospective cohort study of insurance claims data for a 5%sample of Medicare beneficiaries experiencing a 12-month episode of care for congestive heart failure (CHF, n = 53 488), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD, n = 76 520), or type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM, n = 166 654) in 2008 and 2009. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES Hospitalizations, emergency department visits, complications, and costs of care associated with the Bice-Boxerman continuity of care (COC) index, a measure of the outpatient COC related to conditions of interest. RESULTS The mean (SD) COC index was 0.55 (0.31) for CHF, 0.60 (0.34) for COPD, and 0.50 (0.32) for DM. After multivariable adjustment, higher levels of continuity were associated with lower odds of inpatient hospitalization (odds ratios for a 0.1-unit increase in COC were 0.94 [95%CI, 0.93-0.95] for CHF, 0.95 [0.94-0.96] for COPD, and 0.95 [0.95-0.96] for DM), lower odds of emergency department visits (0.92 [0.91-0.92] for CHF, 0.93 [0.92-0.93] for COPD, and 0.94 [0.93-0.94] for DM), and lower odds of complications (odds ratio range, 0.92-0.96 across the 3 complication types and 3 conditions; all P < .001). For every 0.1-unit increase in the COC index, episode costs of care were 4.7%lower for CHF (95%CI, 4.4%-5.0%), 6.3%lower for COPD (6.0%-6.5%), and 5.1% lower for DM (5.0%-5.2%) in adjusted analyses. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE Modest differences in care continuity for Medicare beneficiaries are associated with sizable differences in costs, use, and complications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)742-748
Number of pages7
JournalJAMA internal medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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