Community health workers reduce readmissions and costs: 4 study findings

A new study out of Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Spectrum Health suggests community health workers that visit patients at home to help manage their chronic conditions reduce hospital readmissions and costs.

The research was conducted at two Spectrum hospitals between March 2013 and December 2015. Data was collected on 277 individuals with chronic heart failure, diabetes or both.

Highlighted below are four findings from the study.

1. Over the course of the study, reductions were measured in patient use of the emergency department and inpatient admissions, while improvements were measured in patient body mass indices, physical activity, blood pressure and visits to the dentist.

2. Total charges for inpatient readmission decreased 9.5 percent for heart failure patients, 38.9 percent for diabetes patients and 14.1 percent for patients with both conditions.

3. The reduction in hospital readmissions saved an estimated $495,131 and 203.4 days of inpatient hospitalization during the period of measurement, representing a decrease of 34 percent and 48.5 percent, respectively.

4. Although some patients used the emergency department more frequently, most of those enrolled in the study did not increase their ED use, resulting in an additional 29.3 percent cost reduction.

Ultimately, Spectrum Health deemed the community health worker program effective, since it "optimized the quality of healthcare and improved participant outcomes while simultaneously minimizing costs through better use of healthcare services and resources."



More articles on care for chronic conditions:
HIMSS adds addendum to report on population health initiatives
Which states have the best and worst preventive care?
The key to population health: Know your chronic disease patients and coach them

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