Market Overview

Increasing Patient Contact With Doctors Cut Medicare Advantage Costs 28 Percent, AJMC® Study Finds

Share:

With the US population aging rapidly, payers, providers, and public
policy makers are seeking ways to both improve quality of care and
reduce rising costs. A new study in The American Journal of Managed
Care®
found that giving Medicare Advantage patients more frequent
contact with their primary care doctors kept them healthier and cost 28
percent less than usual care.

Giving Medicare Advantage (MA) patients more frequent contact with their
primary care doctors kept them healthier and cost 28 percent less than
usual care, according to a new study of patients enrolled in MA published in
the September issue
of The American Journal of Managed Care®.

The study's authors, led by Reyan Ghany, MD, National Director of
Cardiovascular Diseases at ChenMed, evaluated the impact of a new type
of primary care model called "high-touch" preventive care.

With the US population aging rapidly, payers, providers, and public
policy makers are seeking ways to both improve quality of care and
reduce rising costs. In the United States, 46 million people are 65
years or older, and that number is expected to double over the next
dozen years. Healthcare for chronic conditions in that age group
currently costs the country more than $617 billion per year.

High-touch primary care allows this population to have frequent contact
with primary care doctors, with the goal of preventing or delaying
complications of chronic conditions. By enabling primary care physicians
to invest an average of 189 minutes of face-to-face time per patient
yearly, Ghany and his co-authors found substantive improvements in both
healthcare costs and utilization among patients who received high-touch
primary care, compared with those receiving standard care, in
this retrospective cohort study of MA patients.

The ChenMed and University of Miami investigators included 17,711
unmatched MA primary care patients and matched 5,695 patients from both
models of care. The median total per member per month healthcare
costs in the group receiving the high-touch model were $87, compared
with $121 for the standard care group. Patients receiving high-touch
care saw their primary care doctors more often (8.7 vs 3.8 visits), and
the mean number of hospital admissions was 50 percent lower for the
high-touch model group.

In addition, patients receiving high-touch care were up to 41 percent
more likely to use preventive medications such as aspirin,
statins, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, β-blockers, and
diuretics.

The study gave three possible reasons for the results. More frequent
communication between patients and their providers may help promote
improved adherence to medication and can also allow physicians to
optimize medications as needed. Another possibility is that the
frequency of visits may allow for more timely diagnosis of ambulatory
care–sensitive conditions, thus allowing patients to avoid the
hospital. A third reason is that patients in the high-touch care model
may be more likely to receive other preventive care, such as vaccination
or cancer screening.

About The American Journal of Managed Care®:

The American Journal of Managed Care® (AJMC®)
is a peer-reviewed, MEDLINE-indexed journal that keeps readers on the
forefront of health policy by publishing research relevant to industry
decision makers as they work to promote the efficient delivery of
high-quality care. AJMC.com is the essential website for managed care
professionals, distributing industry updates daily to leading
stakeholders. Other titles in the AJMC® family include The
American Journal of Accountable Care
®, and two
evidence-based series, Evidence-Based Oncology and
Evidence-Based Diabetes Management. These
comprehensive offerings bring together stakeholder views from payers,
providers, policymakers and other industry leaders in managed care. To
order reprints of articles appearing in AJMC® publications,
please contact Jeff Prescott at 609-716-7777, ext. 331.

About ChenMed:

ChenMed operates about 50 Chen, Dedicated and JenCare Senior Medical
Centers serving diverse elderly populations in seven states. To help
seniors enjoy more healthy days, while significantly reducing both
emergency room visits and in-patient hospital admissions, ChenMed
emphasizes prevention and high-touch services, including on-site
specialists and medication dispensing, door-to-doctor transportation,
and substantively more face-to-face time with primary care physicians.
The AJMC® study included thousands of patients seen in any of the
ChenMed practices between January 2, 2014, and March 27, 2015.

View Comments and Join the Discussion!