Independence's medical home reduced ER use by 8%, study finds

A patient-centered medical home operated by Independence Blue Cross in Philadelphia decreased emergency room use by up to 8 percent. What's more, patients with chronic diseases saw an even greater reduction of up to 12 percent, according to a new study published in the journal Health Services Research.

The study, which was conducted by Independence and CTI Clinical Trial and Consulting Services, analyzed four years' worth of data from about 460,000 Independence members enrolled in 280 primary care practices that function as medical homes.

A copy of the study provided to FierceHealthPayer shows that the largest emergency room visit reductions were concentrated among patients with chronic illnesses, particularly diabetes, hypertension and coronary artery disease.

That's likely because patients without chronic conditions have far fewer visits to prevent. For example, 25 percent of chronically ill patients in the study had at least one emergency room visit, compared to just 13 percent of patients without such illnesses, the study found.

"These latest results show another exciting aspect of the benefits of medical homes, which have demonstrated in our previous studies that they help reduce costs and improve the health of chronically ill patients," Somesh Nigam, Independence's senior vice president and chief informatics officer and study contributor, said in a statement.

An earlier study released in March showed that Independence lowered costs and utilization rates for high-risk members through its medical homes, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

To learn more:
- read the Independence statement