News | October 25, 2010

Study Finds Comprehensive Program Improves Health, Reduces Costs

October 25, 2010 – A new study shows that an intensive population management program that matches heart disease patients to personal nurses and clinical pharmacy specialists not only reduces the risk of death but also reduces health care costs. The study, from Kaiser Permanente Colorado, will be published in the November issue of Pharmacotherapy.

Researchers examined health care expenditures in two populations of patients with heart disease: a group of 628 people enrolled in the Kaiser Permanente Collaborative Cardiac Care Service, a population disease management program, and 628 matched patients receiving standard care. The goal was to determine if an intensive disease management program could provide more value than usual care.

The study found that patients cared for by the CCCS experienced superior health outcomes. As compared to patients receiving usual care, enrollees in the CCCS had better cholesterol control, were more likely to be screened and adhere to important medications like statins, and had far fewer hospitalizations. Overall, CCCS patients had an 89 percent reduction in overall mortality and 88 percent reduction in cardiac mortality compared with patients receiving standard care.

"The goal of the CCCS is to get patients with heart disease on the right medications and deliver needed screenings and care, so one might expect to see health care costs go up with the increased service," said Tom Delate, Ph.D., of Kaiser Permanente Colorado and the study’s lead author. "However, we found the opposite effect: the CCCS was able to keep patients so healthy that they were more likely to stay out of the hospital. At the end of the day, expenditures from this major cost driver were reduced."

When the researchers compared costs, they found that health care expenditures for CCCS enrollees were, on average, $60 less each day for an annual average of $21,900 per patient, per year.

"This program works because it is a team approach," said John Merenich, M.D., study co-author and medical director of the Clinical Pharmacy Cardiac Risk Service. "Our teams of nurses and clinical pharmacists, as well as our health information technology, require significant investment. We always knew it was the right investment because it saved lives. Now we know it's also the right investment because it provides the highest quality care at a lower cost. This is the value people have been looking for in health care."

For more information: www.kaiserpermanente.org

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