Health Care Hotspotting

Citation: Yang, Q., Wiest, D., Davis, A. C., Truchil, A., & Adams, J. L. (2023). Hospital Readmissions by Variation in Engagement in the Health Care Hotspotting Trial: A Secondary Analysis of a Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA network open, 6(9), e2332715.

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  • | Peer Reviewed Article


Variability in intervention participation within care management programs can complicate standard analysis strategies.


To evaluate whether care management was associated with reduced hospital readmissions among individuals with higher participation probabilities.

Design, Setting, and Participants  

A total of 800 hospitalized patients aged 18 years and older were randomized as part of the Health Care Hotspotting randomized clinical trial, which was conducted in Camden, New Jersey, from June 2014 to September 2017. Data were collected through October 2018. In this new analysis performed between April 6, 2022, and April 23, 2023, the distillation method was applied to account for variable intervention participation. A gradient-boosting machine learning model produced predicted probabilities of engaged participation using baseline covariates only. Predicted probabilities were used to trim both intervention and control populations in an equivalent manner, and intervention effects were reevaluated within study population subsets that were increasingly concentrated with patients having higher participation probabilities. Patients had 2 or more hospitalizations in the 6-month preenrollment period and documented evidence of chronic illness and social complexity.


Multidisciplinary teams provided services to patients in the intervention arm for a mean 120 days after hospital discharge. Patients in the control group received usual postdischarge care.

Main Outcomes and Measures  

Hospital readmission rates and counts 30, 90, and 180 days postdischarge.


Of 800 eligible patients, 782 had complete discharge information and were included in this analysis (mean [SD] age, 56.6 [12.7] years; 395 [50.5%] female). In the intent-to-treat analysis, the unadjusted 180-day readmission rate for treatment and control groups was 60.1% vs 61.7% (adjusted odds ratio, 0.95; 95% CI, 0.71-1.28; P = .73) and the mean (SD) number of 180-day readmissions was 1.45 (1.89) vs 1.48 (1.94) (adjusted incidence rate ratio, 0.99, 95% CI, 0.88-1.12; P = .86). Among the population with the highest participation probabilities, the mean (SD) 180-day readmission count was 1.22 (1.74) vs 1.57 (1.74) and the incidence rate ratio attained statistical significance (adjusted incidence rate ratio, 0.74; 95% CI, 0.56-0.99; P = .045). Adjusted odds ratios and adjusted incidence rate ratios for 30- and 90-day outcomes reached statistical significance after population distillation.

Conclusions and Relevance  

This secondary analysis of a randomized clinical trial found that care management was associated with reduced readmissions among patients with higher participation probabilities, suggesting that program operation could be improved by addressing barriers to participation and refining inclusion criteria to identify patients most likely to benefit.