PEDIATRIC ASTHMA: Outreach Program Slashes HMO Costs
Outreach programs for children with asthma enrolled in HMOs can trim emergency department visits, hospitalizations and related costs by up to 75%, according to a study published in this month's Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Dr. Dirk Greineder of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care studied 57 asthmatic youths in HMOs, and placed them in control or outreach groups. Although both groups of patients and their families attended intensive education sessions, children in the outreach group were closely monitored by an outreach nurse via telephone or scheduled visits. After one year, the outreach group had 73% fewer ER visits, 88% fewer hospitalizations and 82% lower out-of- pocket costs than the year before, while the control group saw a 39% drop in ER visits, a 43% decrease in hospitalizations and a 28% cut in out-of-pocket costs. Comparing the results of the two groups, the researchers found that the intervention cut emergency visits by 57%, hospitalizations by 75% and outside costs by 71%. The researchers concluded that the outreach program trimmed as much as "$11.67 for each dollar spent on the outreach nurse's salary" (Reuters Health, 3/23).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.