Objective: To evaluate the effect on all state Medicaid costs of a children's hospital-based multidisciplinary clinic that provides comprehensive and coordinated care for medically complex children.
Design: Before-after intervention study. Patients' health care costs for up to 1 year before enrollment in the clinic were compared with patients' health care costs for up to 1 year after enrollment in the clinic. Patients were enrolled in our study from August 2006 to May 2008.
Setting: Tertiary care children's hospital in a rural state.
Participants: A total of 225 medically complex children who had at least 2 chronic medical conditions and who were followed up by at least 2 pediatric subspecialists.
Intervention: Multidisciplinary teams ensure that each patient receives all the necessary medical, nutritional, and developmental care and that there is improved coordination of care with primary care providers, subspecialists, hospitalists, and community-based services.
Main outcome measures: Using Arkansas Medicaid claims data, we examined the medical costs for all outpatient, inpatient, emergency department, and prescription drug claims. Costs were calculated on a per month per patient basis and summarized for annual costs.
Results: The mean annual cost per patient per month decreased by $1766 for inpatient care (P < .001) and by $6.00 for emergency department care (P < .001). Although the cost per patient per month for outpatient claims (P < .05) and prescriptions (P < .001) increased, the overall cost to Medicaid per patient per month decreased by $1179 (P < .001).
Conclusions: This hospital-based multidisciplinary clinic resulted in a significant decrease in total Medicaid costs for medically complex children.