Study: Medical homes cut costs for chronically ill members

Philadelphia's Independence Blue Cross lowered costs and utilization rates for high-risk members through patient-centered medical homes, according to a three-year study published in The American Journal of Managed Care.

The study tracked about 700 IBC members with multiple chronic illnesses, including congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes and asthma, who have disproportionately high rates of hospital stays and expensive healthcare services.

From 2009 to 2011, the high-risk members who participated in PCMHs had more than 17 percent fewer hospital admissions than patients not treated in medical homes, saving the insurer 11 percent in 2009 and almost 8 percent in 2010 on total medical costs.

"These findings demonstrate the favorable impact of the PCMH on improving quality and lowering the cost of care for those patients who are most seriously ill and have the most to gain from better access and coordination of care," Richard Snyder, IBC's chief medical officer, said in a statement accompanying the study.

The National Committee for Quality Assurance said the study of IBC's medical homes shows they can provide the most appropriate incentives for members with the most needs.

"There is a statistically significant difference between the cost of care in medical homes and non-medical homes," Snyder told FierceHealthPayer in a previous interview. In the 32 medical homes launched in 2008, 33 percent of the 220,000 patients had poorly controlled diabetes, which decreased to only 18 percent in 2012.

To learn more:
- here's the AJMC study
- read the IBC statement