Effects of Acute-Postacute Continuity on Community Discharge and 30-Day Rehospitalization Following Inpatient Rehabilitation

James E. Graham, Janet Prvu Bettger, Addie Middleton, Heidi Spratt, Gulshan Sharma, Kenneth Ottenbacher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine the effects of facility-level acute-postacute continuity on probability of community discharge and 30-day rehospitalization following inpatient rehabilitation. Data Sources: We used national Medicare enrollment, claims, and assessment data to study 541,097 patients discharged from 1,156 inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRFs) in 2010-2011. Study Design: We calculated facility-level continuity as the percentages of an IRF's patients admitted from each contributing acute care hospital. Patients were categorized into three groups: low continuity (<26 percent from same hospital that discharged the patient), medium continuity (26-75 percent from same hospital), or high continuity (>75 percent from same hospital). The multivariable models included an interaction term to examine the potential moderating effects of facility type (freestanding facility vs. hospital-based rehabilitation unit) on the relationships between facility-level continuity and our two outcomes: community discharge and 30-day rehospitalization. Principal Findings: Medicare beneficiaries in hospital-based rehabilitation units were more likely to be referred from a high-contributing hospital compared to those in freestanding facilities. However, the association between higher acute-postacute continuity and desirable outcomes is significantly better in freestanding rehabilitation facilities than in hospital-based units. Conclusions: Improving continuity is a key premise of health care reform. We found that both observed referral patterns and continuity-related benefits differed markedly by facility type. These findings provide a starting point for health systems establishing or strengthening acute-postacute relationships to improve patient outcomes in this new era of shared accountability and public quality reporting programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalHealth Services Research
StateAccepted/In press - 2017



  • Hospitals
  • Medicare
  • Quality of care/patient safety (measurement)
  • Referrals and referral networks
  • Rehabilitation services

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy

Cite this