Geriatric teams cut hospital costs, improve care

Employing an interdisciplinary model of care tailored to elderly patients reduce costs, as well as improves care of elderly patients while hospitalized, a study published online this week in JAMA Internal Medicine found.

The study looked at the cost-effectiveness of Acute Care for Elders (ACE) units at the University of Alabama at Birmingham medical center compared with a multidisciplinary usual care unit in treating hospitalized patients 70 or older.

The ACE unit team model reduced both costs and 30-day readmissions over the year-long period, the study found.

Mean variable direct costs per patient under the ACE team model totaled $2,109 per patient compared with $2,480 under the typical care model, according to MedPage Today. Additionally, the cost per patient for the 25 most common diagnostic-related groups was $1,693 for ACE patients versus $2,138 for usual-care patients.

The savings were significant for patients with low to moderate case mix index scores, but there were no savings for those with high case mix index scores, MedPage Today reported.

Readmission rates were 7.9 percent for ACE patients, compared with 12.8 percent for usual-care patients.

ACE unit teams ran geriatric screens and focused on geriatric symptoms while making rounds, according to the article.

A separate study last year by University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) Hospitals determined hospitals could cut healthcare spending by $6 billion a year nationwide by creating ACE interdisciplinary teams specializing in caring for elderly patients.

ACE pilots at 200 hospitals showed the length of stay fell from 7.3 days to 6.7 days and saved $974 per patient.

To learn more:
- read the study abstract
- here's the MedPage Today article
- check out the UCSF study