A Telephone Support Program to Reduce Costs and Hospital Admissions for Patients at Risk of Readmissions: Lessons from an Evaluation of a Complex Health Intervention

Renata T. Morello, Anna L. Barker, Jennifer J. Watts, Megan A. Bohensky, Andrew B. Forbes, Johannes Stoelwinder

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9 Citations (Scopus)


This study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of a telephone health coaching and support service provided to members of an Australian private health insurance fund - Telephonic Complex Care Program (TCCP) - on hospital use and associated costs. A case-control pre-post study design was employed using propensity score matching. Private health insurance members (n=273) who participated in TCCP between April and December 2012 (cases) were matched (1:1) to members who had not previously been enrolled in the program or any other disease management programs offered by the insurer (n=232). Eligible members were community dwelling, aged ≥65 years, and had 2 or more hospital admissions in the 12 months prior to program enrollment. Preprogram variables that estimated the propensity score included: participant demographics, diagnoses, and hospital use in the 12 months prior to program enrollment. TCCP participants received one-to-one telephone support, personalized care plan, and referral to community-based services. Control participants continued to access usual health care services. Primary outcomes were number of hospital admission claims and total benefits paid for all health care utilizations in the 12 months following program enrollment. Secondary outcomes included change in total benefits paid, hospital benefits paid, ancillary benefits paid, and total hospital bed days over the 12 months post enrollment. Compared with matched controls, TCCP did not appear to reduce health care utilization or benefits paid in the 12 months following program enrollment. However, program characteristics and implementation may have impacted its effectiveness. In addition, challenges related to evaluating complex health interventions such as TCCP are discussed. (Population Health Management 2016;19:187-195)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-195
Number of pages9
JournalPopulation Health Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016

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