Objective: To test the impact of a geriatric evaluation and management model on the costs of acute hospital management of emergently admitted older adults.
Design: Randomized controlled trial. Patients were followed in the acute hospital from admission through discharge. Results based on both univariate and multiple regression analyses.
Setting: Private, nonprofit, academic medical center in a densely populated urban area.
Patients: Adults 70 years of age and older admitted from the Emergency Department to the medicine service (non-ICU admission) who did not have an internist on staff at the admitting hospital. Of 141 randomized patients, 111 (78.7%) met eligibility criteria.
Intervention: Assignment of a geriatrician and a social worker as the primary managing team during the hospital stay.
Main outcome measures: Length of stay, total cost of acute hospital care, cost of laboratory, pharmacy, and rehabilitation services.
Results: Patients in the intervention group had 2.1 fewer days of hospitalization, but this shorter length of stay was not statistically significant (P = 0.108). There were no differences in mortality or discharge disposition. In risk-adjusted, multiple regression analysis the intervention group had a statistically significant lower predicted total cost per patient than the usual care group (-$2,544, P = 0.029); assignment to the intervention group was associated with a lower predicted cost per patient for laboratory (including cardiology graphics) services (P = 0.007) and pharmacy costs (P = 0.047).
Conclusions: When controlled for important predictors of expected resource use, care provided by a geriatric management team resulted in a significant reduction in the cost of hospitalization. A reduction in the cost of laboratory, cardiographic, and pharmacy services is consistent with the team's philosophy of defining the services needed based on goals related to functional outcomes.