OBJECTIVE:

The goal of this trial was to present a case study of care coordination for children and youth with special health care needs from an exclusively pediatric accountable care organization, and compare precare and postcare data on their use of inpatient and emergency department services.

METHODS:

This pre–post comparison of the health care utilization included a subset of 733 children enrolled in Partners for Kids care coordination funded through a delegation arrangement with several Medicaid managed care plans. We compared inpatient admissions, hospital bed days, 30-day hospital readmissions, and emergency department visits during the 6 months before their enrollment in the coordination program versus the 6 months after enrollment.

RESULTS:

Approximately 16 000 referrals to the Partners for Kids care coordination program were made for an estimated 12 000 children. A total of 3072 unique individual children were enrolled; the most common condition classification was mental, behavioral, and neurodevelopmental disorders (25% of enrolled children). Due to rapid turnover/churn in Medicaid managed care eligibility, the subset of children with continuous enrollment was limited to 733 children. Among this subset, the counts of inpatient admissions, bed days, and 30-day readmissions between the pre-enrollment and post-enrollment period decreased (P < .05).

CONCLUSIONS:

These results suggest that it is possible for an accountable care organization to reduce inpatient and emergency department utilization. Going forward, the most important tasks of the care coordination team are to overcome obstacles to referral and participation and to develop methods to achieve better measures of patient-reported outcomes.

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