Coordinated Care Program Reduces Hospital Visits, Costs
Blue Shield of California is expanding a program that provides care coordinators to patients with serious illnesses in an effort to reduce hospitalization and contain treatment costs, the Los Angeles Times reports. Blue Shield launched the program on a trial basis in 2003.
A study by the insurer found that cancer patients in the program had 30% fewer emergency department visits and 38% fewer hospital admissions than Blue Shield cancer patients who did not participate in the program. Survival rates remained virtually the same, according to the Times.
Each coordinator cares for a maximum of two dozen patients and regularly conducts home visits.
Blue Shield researchers concluded that the care-coordination program saved more than $18,000 per patient on average in an 18-month period.
Blue Shield will not release the cost of the program, but the study found that the trial had a 2-to-1 return-on-investment ratio.
About 800 patients with late-stage cancer and other serious diseases will participate in the expanded program (Yi, Los Angeles Times, 6/2).