Research including Dr. Richard Lindrooth interim chair and professor, and graduate student Ms. Rose Hardy, both from the department of health systems, management and policy at the Colorado School of Public Health, have found that a community-based program aimed at high users of hospital emergency departments reduced visits and admissions, while increasing use of primary care providers.
The study was published October 2 in the journal Health Affairs.
Researchers implemented and evaluated Bridges to Care (B2C), an emergency department-initiated, community-based program. It was one of four sites funded by a Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovations grant.
“Many programs have tried to tackle the problem of high utilizers of hospital emergency departments. These are usually people who are on Medicaid,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Roberta Capp, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. “But this is the first program to show that care coordination actually works.”
Researchers compared participants in the B2C program, which focused on Medicaid eligible high emergency department (ED) users, with patients who had received standard care with respect to ED utilization, hospital admission and primary care use.
During the six months after B2C enrollment, the participants had 29.7 percent fewer ED visits and 30 percent less hospitalizations. At the same time, they had 123 percent more primary care visits than the control subjects.
“For a program like B2C to be effective, behavioral health services must be provided to high utilizers to ensure comprehensive, multidisciplinary care,” Dr. Capp said.