A new concept called “Acute Care for Elders,” or “ACE,” could stand to save as much as $6 billion—per year—says a new study from the University of California, San Francisco.
The ACE program offers individualized acute care for elderly patients in hospital units that are specially designed, UCSF writes. It is being tested in 200 hospitals comprising a pilot program that currently serves 100,000 patients.
“The Medicare proportion of the health care budget is going up faster than anything else, and the cost of hospital stays is one of the fastest growing components of that care,” said senior author Seth Landefeld, MD, chief of the UCSF Division of Geriatrics. “This was really an opportunity to look at how you can deliver higher value care while maintaining or improving quality and reducing cost.”
In their research, published this week in the June issue of Health Affairs, Landefeld and his colleagues conducted a randomized controlled study of 1,632 elderly patients seen either in the ACE program or a traditional inpatient hospital setting between August 1993 to May1997. They found that the average length of stay was shorter for patients in the ACE program — 6.7 days versus 7.3 days. They also found that patients in the ACE program incurred lower hospital costs, $9,477 versus $10,451, or a savings of $974 per patient. Nationally, said Landefeld, these numbers could translate to a one percent saving of all Medicare expenditures or $6 billion a year.
“What’s encouraging about this is the outcomes were identical in both groups. So we were able to save money while maintaining the quality of care,” said first author Deborah Barnes, PhD, MPH, an associate professor in the departments of Psychiatry and Epidemiology & Biostatistics at UCSF. “So despite being released about half a day earlier, patients had similar levels of function at discharge, and also the readmission rates were identical in two groups over three months.”
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Written by Elizabeth Ecker