Community navigators reduce hospital utilization in super-utilizers
Objectives: Super-utilizers place a significant burden on the healthcare system. Blending the roles of patient navigators and community health workers may address the clinical and social needs of these patients. This study evaluated the effectiveness of community navigators in reducing hospital utilization and costs among super-utilizers from a low-income area in Memphis, Tennessee.
Study Design: Controlled pre-post (difference-in-differences [DID]) design using Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare electronic health records from 2013 to 2016.
Methods: Data were abstracted for 1 year pre- and post intervention for super-utilizers working with a community navigator (n = 159) and a control group of similar super-utilizers (n = 280). We compared utilization (hospital encounters, total hospital days, days between encounters, 30-day readmissions) and costs before and after working with a navigator for the intervention group with utilization and costs in a control group not working with a navigator and compared relative changes using a DID approach.
Results: Utilization and cost outcomes for intervention and control groups declined significantly from the pre- to post-intervention periods. Relative to the control group, super-utilizers working with community navigators had an additional 13% reduction in hospital encounters (95% CI, -19% to -6%), 8% reduction in total hospital days (95% CI, -14% to -2%), and 9% increase in days between encounters (95% CI, 4%-15%). The intervention group also had additional reductions in 30-day readmissions (-18%; 95% CI, -44% to 22%) and costs (-$4903; 95% CI, -$13,579 to $3774), but these were not statistically significant.
Conclusions: Community navigators can reduce subsequent hospital utilization in super-utilizers. Expansions of this model should examine the model's effectiveness in other populations and outcomes.
Thompson MP, Podila PSB, Clay C, et al. Community navigators reduce hospital utilization in super-utilizers. Am J Manag Care. 2018;24(2):70-76. PMID: 29461853.