Brigham and Women's reduces ED costs by 15% through care coordination program

Emergency department-based care coordination can help hospitals reduce ED use, hospitalizations and costs for frequent ED users, according to a study published in the American Journal of Managed Care.

For the study, researchers examined 72 frequent emergency department users at Boston-based Brigham and Women's Hospital. Half of the patients received usual care, and the other half participated in a pilot program that included a community health worker and an ED-based clinical team. Researchers said the community health worker assisted with care coordination and determining patients' unmet social needs, while the ED-based clinical team worked to create interdisciplinary acute care plans for eligible patients.

The study examined ED visits, hospitalizations and costs for both groups after seven months. Patients in the program had 35 percent fewer ED visits and 31 percent fewer ED hospitalizations compared with their counterparts.

Costs were also less for patients in the program. Average ED direct costs per patient were 15 percent lower for this group compared with patients not in the program, according to the study. Additionally, average inpatient direct costs per patient were 8 percent lower for patients in the program.

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


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