How Cincinnati Children's cut hospitalization rates 20% among high-risk youth

A population health initiative targeting Ohio children in high-risk neighborhoods could be used as a national model to help reduce pediatric hospitalizations, according to a study published in Health Affairs.

For the study, researchers from the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center developed a population health improvement initiative for two high-morbidity, high-poverty neighborhoods in Cincinnati.

The initiative included real-time analysis of EHR data to identify "hot spots" in neighborhoods where children needed additional support. Researchers also worked to improve chronic disease management, eliminate care gaps and mitigate social risks, such as housing instability or poor access to medications.

The hospitalization rate for children in the two neighborhoods fell by 20 percent between the study's baseline period (July 2012 to June 2015) and the improvement period (July 2015 to June 2018). The inpatient bed-day rate also dropped by 18 percent over the same time period. Demographically similar neighborhoods that were not involved with the population health initiative did not show similar decreases.

"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," researchers concluded.

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