Care coordination program reduces ED costs by 15%

Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston have found the implementation of an emergency department (ED) care coordination program could reduce costs and admission rates, according to a study published in the American Journal of Managed Care.

The team of researchers, led by first author Michelle P. Lin, MD, MPH, enrolled 72 of the most frequent ED users to evaluate the care coordination program's ability to reduce visits and costs in caring for them repeatedly. A total of 36 patients were put into the intervention group where they were assisted in navigating care by a community health worker and were provided care plans developed by ED clinical teams. Three dozen patients in the control group received usual ED care.

After seven months, the intervention group had decreased ED visits by 35 percent and admissions by 31 percent when compared to the control group. Additionally, ED direct costs were 15 percent lower and inpatient costs were 8 percent lower for patients in the intervention group.

“ED-based care coordination is a promising approach to reduce ED use and hospitalizations among frequent ED users,” concluded Lin and colleagues. “Our program also demonstrated a decrease in costs per patient. Future efforts to promote population health and control costs may benefit from incorporating similar programs into acute care delivery systems.”