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First National Study Links AAA Partnerships to Health Care Use

New research published in Health Affairs by researchers from Yale University and n4a partner Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University of Ohio finds that AAAs involved in cross-sector collaborations with health care and social service organizations were associated with reductions in hospital admission rates.

The study also found that counties in which AAAs have nursing home diversion programs had significantly lower rates of avoidable nursing home admissions. The authors conclude that their “findings…highlight [AAAs] as a promising potential source of leadership in convening cross-sectoral partnerships to improve health for older adults.”

The study is the first of its kind to examine county-based health care data in relation to AAA-reported data, an important advancement in making the case for the Aging Network's value to health care payers and providers.

Using data from n4a and Scripps Gerontology Center's 2014 National AAA Survey, the study's authors examined the impact of formal and informal partnerships between AAAs and social service and health care organizations on three measures of avoidable health care use and spending. These were all-cause, risk-stratified hospital readmission rates; Medicare spending per beneficiary; and percentage of nursing home residents in each county who had low-care status—in other words, residents with needs that could likely have been met in the home with more availability and better coordination of services.

The study found that counties with AAAs that maintained informal partnerships with a broad range of organizations (e.g., health care, transportation, meal delivery) had significantly lower hospital readmission rates than counties in which AAAs partnered with fewer types of organizations. The study also found that counties with a greater number of formal partnership types spent more per beneficiary on Medicare than counties with fewer types of formal partnerships. However, formal partnerships with health care organizations were not significantly associated with higher spending. These findings suggest more research is needed to better understand the nature of these formal and informal partnerships and their potential to reduce health care utilization and spending.

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