OBJECTIVES: Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program plans publicly report quality measures, including follow-up care after psychiatric hospitalization. We aimed to understand failure to meet this measure, including measurement definitions and enrollee characteristics, while investigating how follow-up affects subsequent psychiatric hospitalizations and emergency department (ED) visits. METHODS: Administrative data representing Alabama's Children's Health Insurance Program from 2013 to 2016 were used to identify qualifying psychiatric hospitalizations and follow-up care with a mental health provider within 7 to 30 days of discharge. Using relaxed measure definitions, follow-up care was extended to include visits at 45 to 60 days and visits to a primary care provider. Logit regressions estimated enrollee characteristics associated with follow-up care and, separately, the likelihood of subsequent psychiatric hospitalizations and/or ED visits within 30, 60, and 120 days. RESULTS: We observed 1072 psychiatric hospitalizations during the study period. Of these, 356 (33.2%) received follow-up within 7 days and 566 (52.8%) received it within 30 days. Relaxed measure definitions captured minimal additional follow-up visits. The likelihood of follow-up was lower for both 7 days (-18 percentage points; 95% confidence interval [CI] -26 to -10 percentage points) and 30 days (-26 percentage points; 95% CI -35 to -17 percentage points) regarding hospitalization stays of ≥8 days. Meeting the measure reduced the likelihood of subsequent psychiatric hospitalizations within 60 days by 3 percentage points (95% CI -6 to -1 percentage point). CONCLUSIONS: Among children, receipt of timely follow-up care after a psychiatric hospitalization is low and not sensitive to measurement definitions. Follow-up care may reduce the need for future psychiatric hospitalizations and/or ED visits.
Adolescent, Alabama, Child, Continuity of Patient Care, Emergency Service, Hospital, Female, Hospitalization, Humans, Male, Mental Health Services, Patient Discharge, Quality Indicators, Health Care, State Health Plans, Young Adult