Study: NJ hospitals could cut hospital overuse with better care coordination

Improvements in care coordination could reduce the rate of avoidable hospital use among the patient population of New Brunswick and Franklin Township, N.J., according to a study by Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

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For the study, researchers examined data for 45,316 patients who visited Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and Saint Pete's University Hospital, both in New Brunswick, during 2012-2013.

Here are five study findings.

1. Out of the 45,316 patients, 1,370, or 3 percent, were considered Medicaid "high utilizers," according to the study. High utilizers are patients who visited the emergency department of one or both hospitals five or more times, or had three or more hospitalizations, during the two years.

2. Eight individual buildings comprised of apartment complexes, skilled nursing and post-acute facilities were identified as "geographic hotspots" for high utilizers.

3. Each hotspot had hospital receipts ranging from $1.08 million to $3.85 million during the two years, and the average two-year cost per patient from all hotspots was nearly $18,000, according to the study.

4. The study identified behavioral health diagnoses as one of the various morbidities linked to high utilizers.

Researchers said the study overall "identified community hotspots and suggest the need for better coordination of care across primary care, hospitals and post-acute care facilities to reduce over-utilization."

"The existence of hotspots in our two communities argues for coordinated targeting of health services for patients in particular geographies in a different way, including possible residentially based preventive and chronic care services," researchers concluded. They said the study also highlights "the need for new solutions for providing convenient, comprehensive physical and behavioral healthcare," as well as "the need for multiple stakeholders from the healthcare, governmental and social service sectors to work together to improve health and healthcare access for all patients in the Greater New Brunswick area."



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