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Reducing emergency department visits among older adults: A demonstration project evaluation of a low-intensity integrated care model

Daniel Chen (Department of Psychiatry, Flushing Hospital Medical Center, Flushing, New York, USA)
Alex M. Torstrick (Department of Psychology, St John’s University, Queens, New York, USA)
Robert Crupi (Department of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine, NewYork-Presbyterian/Queens, Flushing, New York, USA)
Joseph E. Schwartz (Department of Psychiatry, Stony Brook University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine, Stony Brook, New York, USA)
Ira Frankel (Department of Psychiatry, Flushing Hospital Medical Center, Flushing, New York, USA)
Elizabeth Brondolo (Department of Psychology, St John’s University, Queens, New York, USA)

Journal of Integrated Care

ISSN: 1476-9018

Article publication date: 3 December 2018

Issue publication date: 8 February 2019

396

Abstract

Purpose

There is mixed evidence regarding the efficacy of low-intensity integrated care interventions in reducing the use of emergency services and costs of care. The purpose of this paper is to examine the effects of a low-intensity intervention formulated for older adults and delivered in an urban medical center serving low-income individuals.

Design/methodology/approach

The intervention included an initial evaluation of stress, psychiatric symptomatology and health habits; potential referrals for lifestyle management and psychiatric treatment; and training for physicians about the impact of lifestyle change in older adults. Participants included older adults (at or above 50 years of age) seen as outpatients in an urban medical center serving a low-income community (n=945). Participants were entered into the intervention at any point during this two-year period. Mixed models analyses examined all visits for all enrolled individuals over a two-year period, comparing visits before the individual received the initial intervention evaluation to those received after this evaluation. Outcomes included total health care costs incurred, average cost per visit, and emergency department (ED) usage within the facility.

Findings

The intervention was associated with reduced likelihood of emergency department use and reduced costs per visit following the intervention. These effects were seen across all participants.

Research limitations/implications

Limitations of the study include the lack of control group.

Practical implications

This program is easy to disseminate and could improve the quality of care and costs.

Originality/value

This study is among the few available to document a decrease in medical costs, as well as decreased ED utilization following a low-intensity integrated care intervention.

Keywords

Citation

Chen, D., Torstrick, A.M., Crupi, R., Schwartz, J.E., Frankel, I. and Brondolo, E. (2019), "Reducing emergency department visits among older adults: A demonstration project evaluation of a low-intensity integrated care model", Journal of Integrated Care, Vol. 27 No. 1, pp. 37-49. https://doi.org/10.1108/JICA-02-2018-0011

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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