Dec. 24 (UPI) — A new program of coordinated care could help keep dementia patients out of nursing homes, and may save money for Medicare because it is cost-neutral after considering its cost.
A study published Friday in JAMA Internal Medicine found that, on average, each participant saved $ 2,404 per year.
“The most striking finding was that patients enrolled in the program reduced their risk of entering a nursing home by about 40 percent,” Lee Jennings, an assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine and study author, said in a news release.
The research compared 1,083 Medicare beneficiaries with dementia for three years with people sharing the same zip code who didn’t participate in the study.
For those in the program, participants and their caregivers met with a nurse practitioner specializing in dementia care to address the needs of both patients and caregivers. The nurses work with care providers to implement the plan and change it as needs change.
The researchers found there were no differences in the need for medical care, either in or out of the hospital, but patients in the program saved Medicare more than $ 600 per quarter, or about $ 2,400 per year.
“We found the study to be very exciting,” Jennings said, “because it showed that an intensive intervention can delay nursing home entry without adding costs. The intervention isn’t going to reverse dementia, but it allows us to provide high-quality care to help patients cope with the progression of this disease and stay in their homes for longer.”
The study was designed to assess the financial security and family assistance of patients and caregivers.
“This study aligns with similar studies of collaborative care models for other chronic diseases, such as heart failure,” Jennings said. “It underscores that we need to be thinking differently about how we provide care to persons with chronic illnesses, like dementia. This study shows the benefit of a collaborative care model, where nurse practitioners and physicians work together to provide comprehensive dementia care.”