Cross-Continuum Tool Is Associated with Reduced Utilization and Cost for Frequent High-Need Users
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Cross-Continuum Tool Is Associated with Reduced Utilization and Cost for Frequent High-Need Users


Introduction: High-need, high-cost patients can over-utilize acute care services, a pattern of behavior associated with many poor outcomes that disproportionately contributes to increased US healthcare cost. Our objective was to reduce healthcare cost and improve outcomes by optimizing the system of care.  We targeted HNHC patients and identified root causes of frequent healthcare utilization.  We developed a cross-continuum intervention process and a succinct tool called a Complex Care Map (CCM)© that addresses fragmentation in the system and links providers to a comprehensive individualized analysis of the patient story and causes for frequent access to health services.

Methods: Using a pre/post test design, this quality improvement project focused on determining if the interdisciplinary intervention called CCM© had an impact on healthcare utilization and costs for HNHC patients.  Analysis was conducted between November 2012 and December 2015 at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, a Midwestern urban hospital with greater than 80,000 annual emergency department visits.  Included patients had three or more hospital visits (ED or IP) in the 12 months prior to initiation of a CCM© (n=339).  Individualized CCMs© were created and made available in the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) to all healthcare providers. We compared utilization, cost, social, and healthcare access variables from the EMR and cost accounting system for 12 months before and after CCMs© implementation.  Both descriptive and limited inferential statistics were utilized.


Results: ED mean visits decreased 43% (p<0.001), inpatient mean admissions decreased 44% (p<0.001), outpatient mean visits decreased 17% (p<0.001), CT mean scans decreased 62% (p<0.001), and OBS/IP LOS mean days decreased 41% (p<0.001).  Gross charges decreased 45 % (p<0.001), direct expenses decreased 47% (p<0.001), contribution margin improved by 11% (p=0.002), and operating margin improved by 73% (p<0.001).  Patients with housing increased 14% (p<0.001), those with primary care increased 15% (p<0.001), and those with insurance increased 16% (p<0.001).


Conclusion: Individualized CCMs© for a select group of patients are associated with decreased healthcare system overutilization and cost of care.

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