Cincinnati Children's study: Hospitalizations down 20% in 2 neighborhoods with high poverty, morbidity

Hospital stays for children in some of Cincinnati's poorest and unhealthiest neighborhoods fell under a new population health initiative to narrow equity gaps, according to a report published in Health Affairs.

For the study, researchers from the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center narrowed its population health improvement work to one county in Ohio: Hamilton. The children's hospital manages about 95 percent of pediatric hospitalizations for children who live in the county. They then identified two Cincinnati neighborhoods — Avondale and Price Hill — where child hospitalizations were the highest from July 2012 to June 2015, focusing their quality improvement efforts there.

By targeting improvement efforts to those two neighborhoods in 2015, researchers aimed to reduce inpatient bed-day rate for Avondale and Price Hill children by at least 10 percent by June 2020. The researchers focused on four areas of population health improvement: chronic conditions, transitions of care, mitigation of social risk, and actionable, real-time data.

Under their hyper-localized population health initiative, the researchers observed the inpatient bed-day rate for the two neighborhoods fell by 18 percent. Hospitalizations fell by 20 percent. Neither change was recorded in demographically comparable neighborhoods that weren't part of the initiative.

"We have pushed our healthcare system and community to be accountable to populations and neighborhoods that are disproportionately affected by medical and social challenges," the researchers said. "We have made early progress toward keeping children out of the hospital. We now seek to take what we have learned and push toward scale and spread."

Read the full report here.

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