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Learning Health Pilot Notches Reduced Costs

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   January 03, 2017

Implementation of one such system resulted in reductions in health care costs of $1.36 million over a 12-month period in 2010 and 2011.

Learning health systems, long-predicted to lead to lower costs, better care, and improved clinical research, have in one instance, shown their value.

A team from Nationwide Children's Hospital and The Ohio State University found that over a 12-month period, combining tailored electronic health records system entry, care coordinators, and evidence-based clinical data and research resulted in a 43% reduction in total inpatient days, 27% reduction in inpatient admission, 30% reduction in ER visits, and 29% reduction in urgent care visits.

The researchers' findings were study published by the Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, and are cited in an editorial published in JAMA.

The study was conducted with 131 children treated through the hospital's Cerebral Palsy (CP) program via its Learn From Every Patient (LFEP) initiative, which resulted in reductions in health care costs of $1.36 million over a 12-month period in 2010 and 2011.

The LFEP program leveraged special data entered into the patients' EHRs to coordinate care, reducing treatment duplication and errors. LFEP data were extracted into an Epic Clarity enterprise data warehouse, which also housed billing information.

Using clinical documentation templates created in Epic, providers were presented with a prioritized list of research questions designed to drive specific improvements in clinical care.

A Savings Ratio of 6:1
The cost of implementing the pilot program, including care coordination expenses, totaled about $225,000 over the first year. But these costs were only 16% of the reduced total health expenditures during the first year of the program, a savings of about $6 for every $1 invested.

Ten of 11 providers participating in the study also reported that use of LFEP made documentation easier and faster.

Since the chronic conditions of the children with CP resemble those of chronic multi-symptom conditions in adults, the study authors believe programs such as LFEP may yield greater potential healthcare system savings in adult patients.

Scott Mace is the former senior technology editor for HealthLeaders Media. He is now the senior editor, custom content at H3.Group.

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