Improving Transitions to Postacute Care for Elderly Patients Using a Novel Video-Conferencing Program: ECHO-Care Transitions

Am J Med. 2017 Oct;130(10):1199-1204. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2017.04.041. Epub 2017 May 25.


Purpose: Within 30 days of hospital discharge to a skilled nursing facility, older adults are at high risk for death, re-hospitalization, and high-cost health care. The purpose of this study was to examine whether a novel videoconference program called Extension for Community Health Outcomes-Care Transitions (ECHO-CT) that connects an interdisciplinary hospital-based team with clinicians at skilled nursing facilities reduces patient mortality, hospital readmission, skilled nursing facility length of stay, and 30-day health care costs.

Methods: We undertook a prospective cohort study comparing cost and health care utilization outcomes between ECHO-CT facilities and matched comparisons from January 2014-December 2014.

Results: Thirty-day readmission rates were significantly lower in the intervention group (odds ratio 0.57; 95% CI, 0.34-0.96; P-value .04), as were the 30-day total health care cost ($2602.19 lower; 95% CI, -$4133.90 to -$1070.48; P-value <.001) and the average length of stay at the skilled nursing facility (-5.52 days; 95% CI, -9.61 to -1.43; P = .001). The 30-day mortality rate was not significantly lower in the intervention group (odds ratio 0.38; 95% CI, 0.11-1.24; P = .11).

Conclusion: Patients discharged to skilled nursing facilities participating in the ECHO-CT program had shorter lengths of stay, lower 30-day rehospitalization rates, and lower 30-day health care costs compared with those in matched skilled nursing facilities delivering usual care. ECHO-CT may improve patient transitions to postacute care at lower overall cost.

Keywords: Care transitions; ECHO; Readmissions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Continuity of Patient Care* / standards
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Patient Discharge
  • Patient Readmission / statistics & numerical data
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality Improvement*
  • Skilled Nursing Facilities
  • Videoconferencing*