Objectives To assess the effects of an integrated care pathway on the use of primary and secondary healthcare by patients at high risk of emergency inpatient admission.
Design Observational study of a real-life deployment of integrated care, using patient-level administrative data. Regression analysis was used to compare integrated care patients with matched controls.
Setting A deprived, inner city London borough (Tower Hamlets).
Participants 1,720 patients aged 50+ years registered with a general practitioner in Tower Hamlets and at high risk of emergency inpatient admission enrolled onto integrated care during 2014. These patients were matched to control patients, also selected from Tower Hamlets, with respect to demographics, diagnoses of health conditions, previous hospital use and risk score.
Interventions Enrolled patients were eligible for a range of interventions, such as case management, support with self-care and enhanced care coordination. Control patients received usual care.
Primary and secondary endpoints Number of emergency inpatient admissions in the year after enrolment onto integrated care. Secondary endpoints included numbers of elective inpatient admissions, inpatient bed days, accident and emergency attendances, outpatient attendances and general practitioner contacts in the year after enrolment.
Results There was no evidence that the integrated care pathway reduced patients’ healthcare utilisation in the first year post-enrolment. Matched controls and integrated care patients were similar at baseline. Following enrolment, integrated care patients were more likely than matched controls to experience elective inpatient admissions (adjusted incidence rate ratio (IRR)=1.27, 95%CI 1.08 to 1.49, p=0.004). They were also more likely to experience general practitioner contacts (adjusted IRR=1.11, 95% CI 1.06 to 1.16, p<0.001), but other endpoints were not significantly different between the groups.
Conclusions The integrated care pathway was not associated with a reduction in healthcare utilisation in the first year, but appeared to have increased elective inpatient admissions and general practitioner workload.