Institute of Mental Health1
During Circuit Breaker(CB), hospitals postpone non-urgent appointments to avoid crowding in clinics and infection control. This resulted in longer post-discharge appointment wait times(WT). This study investigates whether a longer WT impacted on short-term Readmission Rates(RR). It is hypothesized that longer WT would predict higher RR.
227 patients from one male acute ward in IMH were data mined, in 2 similar periods. Patients discharged 7/4/2019-1/6/2019 formed the control group (n=75) whilst patients discharged 7/4/2020-1/6/2020 formed the CB group (n=109). Forty-three patients were excluded as if they did not have further follow-up with IMH or was on follow-up with a different team.
Analysis using t-test confirmed that WT during CB (M=25.12,SD=14.73) was longer ( >10 days) than WT pre-COVID (M=15.63,SD=6.74), t(139)=-4.76,p<.001.
However, significant increase in WT did not result in significant increase in readmission rates in one month,
χ2(1,N=141)=0.45,p=.501, three months, χ2(1,N=141)=0.41,p=.520, and six months
In both pre-COVID and CB periods a longer WT resulted in higher RR. This highlights the importance of managing WT when patients are in the community. Due to the COVID restrictions, WT were significantly longer. However, RR (both short- and long-term) did not vary even with reduced face-to-face contact, reduced manpower and split-team arrangements that disrupted continuity of care. One possible reason postulated was the increased frequency of telephonic case management calls.