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Pennsylvania 'medical homes' cut costs for Medicaid patients by $4k+: 5 takeaways

Philadelphia-based University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine researchers analyzed the financial impact of primary care "medical homes," and published their findings.

The study reviewed claims of Pennsylvania Medicaid patients, who had chronic illnesses as well as substance abuse and psychiatric conditions. Sixty of the patients received traditional primary care in physician offices, and 96 received care under the Chronic Care Initiative. The CCI allowed patients to receive care in their "medical homes," which involved team-based primary care, patient education, behavioral health support and chronic care coordination all under one roof.

Journal of General Internal Medicine published the study.

Here are five takeaways:

1. The researchers found those Medicaid patients with a primary care "medical home" decreased costs of their care by about $4,145.28, annually.

2. Those patients with "medical homes" also reduced their number of physician appointments and hospitalizations.

3. The study found CCI patients were 15 percent less likely to end up in the emergency room, compared to non-CCI patients.

4. CCI patients were 41 percent less likely to undergo a psychiatric hospitalization, compared to non-CCI patients.

5. The researchers concluded CCI patients' total cost savings mainly resulted from the cut in their hospital costs.

"The takeaway from the analysis of these claims is that if we focus intensive care coordination efforts on the highest-risk patients…we can achieve significant cost savings, even in the first year of a program" said Karin Rhodes, MD, lead author of the study.

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