LAS VEGAS – Women and their newborns who received care through a pregnancy medical home model used the emergency department less and had fewer inpatient stays, resulting in significant cost savings to a state health insurance plan.
In the single-center, retrospective cohort study, women who had at least one medical home visit had 897 emergency department visits per 1,000 member months, compared with 1,969/1,000 member months for patients who had no medical home visits (P less than .01). Newborns in the medical home group had fewer inpatient days per 1,000 member months as well, compared with non–medical home infants (698 vs. 1,799 days/member month, P less than .01). Inpatient stays for pregnant women receiving medical home care were also reduced (4,279 vs. 2,939 inpatient days, P less than .01).
The pregnancy medical home project was conducted jointly by the Texas Children’s Health Plan and Baylor College of Medicine. The care delivery model, offered from the Baylor Center for Children and Women, gave pregnant women enhanced access, used evidence-based protocols for treatment, and emphasized both quality care and the patient experience, said Dr. Suhag, professor of ob.gyn. at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston.
The pregnancy medical home includes extended hours, walk-in appointments, 24-hour nurse availability for triage, and a laborist model for hospital coverage.
From a payment perspective, the medical home is a fully capitated, full-risk model. “Our center is paid on a monthly basis to provide care to members of our panel,” Dr. Suhag said at the annual Pregnancy Meeting sponsored by the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine.
The primary outcomes measured by the study were the number of inpatient days and the rate of emergency department usage among pregnancy medical home participants, compared with nonparticipating pregnant women and newborns seen at the Center for Children and Women. Annualized cost savings for the pregnancy medical home model was a secondary outcome measure.
Over a 1-year period, the study examined claims data for pregnant women and newborns who were enrolled in the Texas Children’s Health Plan and were assigned to the pregnancy medical home panel. In total, 27,912 member months (including care for both women and newborns) were examined; of these, about 37% (10,402) were for women and newborns who had at least one medical home visit, and 63% (17,510) of the member months accrued to patients who had no medical home visits. Women and their infants were excluded from the cohort if they received care billed to another health plan.
Participation in the medical home group resulted in lower costs, with annualized estimated emergency department cost savings of $330,161 and $30,739 for pregnant women and newborns, respectively. The reduced number of inpatient days in the medical home group resulted in a total savings of $494,313 for pregnant women and $1,606,392 for newborns in this cohort.
The integrated care model, which used a care coordinator and provided care from multiple specialties at a single site, was likely the key to success, Dr. Suhag said. “With this access, 40% of our pregnant moms were able to access prenatal care in the first trimester, which likely improved outcomes and contributed to the cost savings,” she said.
The control group in the study was made up of individuals who had been randomized to the medical home, but who had chosen care from another provider instead. Because the researchers were relying on health claims data, they were not able to perform a detailed comparison between the two groups, leaving open the possibility that patient characteristics may have accounted for part of the differences in outcomes. Women “could self-select to receive care at the Center for Children and Women,” Dr. Suhag said in an interview. “It is possible that they are different than the women who did not choose care in our clinic.”
A strength of the study, Dr. Suhag said, is that it evaluated outcomes from the medical home model by comparing it to several other medical practices caring for a similar demographic in the same geographic area.
The study was conducted by the Texas Children’s Health Plan and Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Suhag reported having no other outside sources of funding or conflicts of interest.
Dr. Suhag reported having no outside sources of funding beyond the study’s two sponsoring organizations and no conflicts of interest.