Providing a solid base of primary-care service and coordinating specialty care for high-risk patients has been advocated as a method of lowering overall healthcare costs. Doing so would presumably reduce repeat hospitalization and emergency department visits. A new study posted on the JAMA Internal Medicine website suggests that such an approach does, indeed, work.
Researchers with University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine found that when low-income uninsured or Medicaid beneficiary patients at two Philadelphia hospitals were assisted by community health workers in developing an individual recovery plan, they were more likely to have a primary-care visit within 14 days of discharge and to report high-quality post-discharge communication.
Recently, research from the CMS Innovation Center received criticism for its lack of scientific rigor, but the University of Pennsylvania study was a randomized trial in which 222 patients received an individualized discharge plan from community health workers between April 10, 2011, and Oct. 30, 2012, and 224 who did not during that period. It also was noted that the patients studied, ages 18 to 64 years old, were from the general patient population while other, similar studies focused on patients with a specific disease so the results were not necessarily applicable to all patients.