Hospital readmissions place a major burden on patients and health care systems worldwide, but little is known about patterns and timing of readmissions in Germany.
We used German health insurance claims (AOK, 2011-2016) of patients ≥ 65 years hospitalized for acute myocardial infarction (AMI), heart failure (HF), a composite of stroke, transient ischemic attack, or atrial fibrillation (S/AF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), type 2 diabetes mellitus, or osteoporosis to identify hospital readmissions within 30 or 90 days. Readmissions were classified into all-cause, specific, and non-specific and their characteristics were analyzed.
Within 30 and 90 days, about 14-22% and 27-41% index admissions were readmitted for any reason, respectively. HF and S/AF contributed most index cases, and HF and COPD accounted for most all-cause readmissions. Distributions and ratios of specific to non-specific readmissions were disease-specific with highest specific readmissions rates among COPD and AMI.
German claims are well-suited to investigate readmission causes if longer periods than 30 days are evaluated. Conditions closely related with the primary disease are the most frequent readmission causes, but multiple comorbidities among readmitted cases suggest that a multidisciplinary care approach should be implemented vigorously addressing comorbidities already during the index hospitalization.