Researchers found that AAA partnerships with hospitals and health systems have increased in recent years, while affiliations with local health departments have decreased.
Health system partnerships with Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) reduced spending Medicare spending by $136 per beneficiary over a five-year period, according to a study published in Health Affairs Monday afternoon.
There are over 600 AAAs nationwide, according to the study, which assist older patients by providing needed services, including "nutrition, transportation, in-home supports, and social services."
Analyzing data between 2008 to 2013, researchers led by Amanda Brewster, an assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley, found that "potentially avoidable nursing home use" fell by 1% when AAAs were funded as part of livable community initiatives. These initiatives consist of a "multisector coalitions" aimed at boosting the well-being of senior patients.
Additionally, AAA partnerships with mental health organizations in the same county resulted in potentially avoidable nursing home use dropping by 0.5%.
Beyond the financial savings, hospitals could also achieve reduced healthcare use from older patients thanks to increased investments in AAAs and other healthcare organizations that address vulnerabilities facing those communities.
According to the study, "As hospitals, healthcare providers, and policy makers search for opportunities to improve health for high-cost, high-need populations such as older adults with multiple chronic conditions, our finding that the establishment of AAA partnerships with specific types of health organizations can be traced to subsequent reductions in healthcare use and spending suggests that AAAs should be considered a key ally for health organizations."
Researchers found that AAA partnerships with hospitals and health systems have increased in recent years, while affiliations with local health departments and community health providers have decreased.
Between 2010 to 2016, there was an increase in the proportion of AAAs involved in planning for livable community initiatives, as well as the funding dedicated to boosting participation in such efforts, according to the study.
Jack O'Brien is the finance editor at HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.