BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Despite considerable attention, little is known about the degree to which primary care medical homes influence early postdischarge utilization. We sought to test the hypothesis that patients with medical homes are less likely to have early postdischarge hospital or emergency department (ED) encounters. METHODS: This prospective cohort study enrolled randomly selected patients during an acute hospitalization at a children's hospital during 2012 to 2014. Demographic and clinical data were abstracted from administrative sources and caregiver questionnaires on admission through 30 days postdischarge. Medical home experience was assessed by using Maternal and Child Health Bureau definitions. Primary outcomes were 30-day unplanned readmission and 7-day ED visits to any hospital. Logistic regression explored relationships between outcomes and medical home experiences. RESULTS: We followed 701 patients, 97% with complete data. Thirty-day unplanned readmission and 7-day ED revisit rates were 12.4% and 5.6%, respectively. More than 65% did not have a medical home. In adjusted models, those with medical home component "having a usual source of sick and well care" had fewer readmissions than those without (adjusted odds ratio 0.54, 95% confidence interval 0.30–0.96). Readmissions were higher among those with less parent confidence in avoiding a readmission, subspecialist primary care providers, longer length of index stay, and more hospitalizations in the past year. ED visits were associated with lack of parent confidence but not medical home components. CONCLUSIONS: Lacking a usual source for care was associated with readmissions. Lack of parent confidence was associated with readmissions and ED visits. This information may be used to target interventions or identify high-risk patients before discharge.

This report is part of the RAND external publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.