An Acute Care for Elders Quality Improvement Program for Complex, High-Cost Patients Yields Savings for the System
BACKGROUND: Acute Care for Elders (ACE) programs improve outcomes for older adults; however, little is known about whether impact varies with comorbidity severity.
OBJECTIVE: To describe differences in hospital-level outcomes between ACE and routine care across various levels of comorbidity burden.
DESIGN: Cross-sectional quality improvement study.
SETTING: A 716-bed teaching hospital.
PARTICIPANTS: Medical inpatients aged ≥70 years hospitalized between September 2014 and August 2017.
INTERVENTION: ACE care, including interprofessional rounds, geriatric syndromes screening, and care protocols, in an environment prepared for elders
MEASUREMENTS: Total cost, length of stay (LOS), and 30-day readmissions. We calculated median differences for cost and LOS between ACE and usual care and explored variations across the distribution of outcomes at the 25th, 50th, 75th and 90th percentiles. Results were also stratified across quartiles of the combined comorbidity score.
RESULTS: A total of 1,429 ACE and 10,159 non-ACE patients were included in this study. The mean age was 81 years, 57% were female, and 81% were white. ACE patients had lower costs associated with care ranging from $171 at the 25th percentile to $3,687 at the 90th percentile, as well as lower LOS ranging from 0 days at the 25th percentile to 1.9 days at the 90th percentile. After stratifying by comorbidity score, the greatest differences in outcomes were among those with higher scores. There was no difference in 30-day readmission between the groups.
CONCLUSION: The greatest reductions in cost and LOS were in patients with greater comorbidity scores. Risk stratification may help hospitals prioritize admissions to ACE units to maximize the impact of the more intensive intervention.