IMPaCT is a standardized community health worker (CHW) intervention for high-risk patients that has been previously evaluated in three randomized clinical trials across various clinical settings and diseases. The prior studies showed improvement in outcomes such as access to and quality of care, self-reported mental health, and hospitalization rates, but each trial did not focus solely on hospitalization. This current study combines the data from these trials from 2011 to 2016 to analyze the effects of IMPaCT on hospital utilization.
Compared to the control group, patients enrolled in IMPaCT experienced significant reductions in bed days, hospitalizations, repeat hospitalizations, and length of stay. Additionally, patients experienced decreased fragmentation of care, measured by how many hospitalizations occurred outside the primary health system. This study demonstrates how a longitudinal, tailored, relationship-based social intervention can be successfully implemented in a health system and reduce acute care use, which can support health systems and payers in addressing patients’ social needs while reducing costs. Interestingly, IMPaCT CHWs are explicitly trained not to keep patients out of the hospital, but instead to partner with their patients, who often had unmet social needs to be addressed. The analysis demonstrated that upstream approaches can yield favorable outcomes.
- How can community health workers be used to reduce hospitalizations in high-risk patients?