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Observational Study
. 2015 Feb;21(2):e141-51.

Leveraging Remote Behavioral Health Interventions to Improve Medical Outcomes and Reduce Costs

  • PMID: 26065105
Observational Study

Leveraging Remote Behavioral Health Interventions to Improve Medical Outcomes and Reduce Costs

Reena L Pande et al. Am J Manag Care. .

Abstract

Objective: The dramatic rise in healthcare expenditures calls for innovative and scalable strategies to achieve measurable, near-term improvements in health. Our objective was to determine whether a remotely delivered behavioral health intervention could improve medical health, reduce hospital admissions, and lower cost of care for individuals with a recent cardiovascular event.

Study design: This retrospective observational cohort study included members of a commercial health plan referred to participate in AbilTo’s Cardiac Health Program. AbilTo is a national provider of telehealth, behavioral change programs for high risk medical populations.

Methods: The program is an 8-week behavioral health intervention delivered by a licensed clinical social worker and a behavioral coach via phone or secure video.

Results: Among the 201 intervention and 180 comparison subjects, the study found that program participants had significantly fewer all-cause hospital admissions in 6 months (293 per 1000 persons/year vs 493 per 1000 persons/year in the comparison group) resulting in an adjusted percent reduction of 31% (P = .03), and significantly fewer total hospital days (1455 days per 1000 persons/year vs 3933 per 1000 persons/year) with an adjusted percent decline of 48% (P = .01). This resulted in an overall savings in the cost of care even after accounting for total program costs.

Conclusions: Successful patient engagement in a national, remotely delivered behavioral health intervention can reduce medical utilization in a targeted cardiac population. A restored focus on tackling barriers to behavior change in order to improve medical health is an effective, achievable population health strategy for reducing health costs in the United States.

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