A fresh look at a nearly decade-old effort to reduce hospitalizations for Camden residents with significant medical and social needs shows that while the intervention didn’t drive down admissions, it likely improved patients’ health and welfare.
“It’s a qualified success,” said Joel Cantor, director of the Rutgers Center for State Health Policy, which provided data for the review. “Life is more than just not getting hospitalized.”
For people with complex, chronic conditions, hospitalizations reflect poor disease management, Cantor said. “The fact that [re-admissions] didn’t improve, that is a problem,” he said. ‘But getting good primary care is important for lots of reasons, not just keeping us out of the hospital.”
For Cantor, who has studied the state’s Medicaid system for years, the Health Affairs report also underscores the barriers these patients face, many of which lie outside the purview of the health care system and aren’t covered by the publicly funded insurance program. “My major takeaway is you really have to think of the health care system being broken on multiple levels,” he said. “What this intervention did was substantially overcome sort of the first step in the process that was broken, which is getting people into care.”