Objective: To determine the effect of intensive patient-centered management (PCM) on service utilization and survival.
Study design: Prospective cohort study of 756 patients in California who had a life-limiting diagnosis with multiple comorbid conditions (75% were oncology patients) and who were covered by a large commercial health maintenance organization from February 2003 through December 2004.
Methods: Group membership determined assignment to the PCM cohort versus the usual-management cohort after blindly screening for clinical complexity. Both cohorts accessed the same delivery system, utilization management practices, and benefits. Intervention was intensive PCM, involving education, home visits, frequent contact, and goal-oriented care plans.
Results: Roughly half (358) of the 756 patients received PCM. Fewer PCM oncology patients elected either chemotherapy or radiation (42% increase over usual-management oncology patients). PCM patients had reductions in inpatient diagnoses indicative of uncoordinated care: nausea (-44%), anemia (-33%), and dehydration (-17%). PCM patients had utilization reductions: -38% inpatient admissions (95% confidence interval [CI] = -37%, -38%), -36% inpatient hospital days (95% CI = -35%, -37%), and -30% emergency department visits (95% CI = -29%, -31%). PCM patients had utilization increases: 22% more home care days (95% CI = 20%, 23%) and 62% more hospice days (95% CI = 56%, 67%). Overall costs were reduced by 26% (95% CI = 25%, 27%). Patients' lives were not shortened (26% of PCM patients died vs 28% of patients who received usual management) (P = .80).
Conclusion: Comprehensive PCM can sharply reduce utilization and costs over usual management without shortening life.