Researchers with the Pediatric Medical Home at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA have been awarded a grant for $300,000 per year for three years from the United States Health Resources and Services Administration to study strategies to help reduce these high medical costs for children with complex chronic disease.
The project will seek to identify the root causes for preventable hospital admissions and emergency room use and design strategies to decrease these drivers of increased healthcare expenditures.
The number of children with medically complex illness, such as cancer, congenital heart disease or cerebral palsy, is increasing due to advances in pediatric care that have led to increased survival in previously high-mortality conditions. This population, despite representing only 10 percent of children, accounts for a substantial proportion of overall pediatric hospital costs.
"Children are not just ‘little adults,’" said Dr. Ryan Coller, director of quality for the department of pediatrics at UCLA and the study’s principal investigator. "What drives the high costs of health care dollars in adult-onset disease is much different than children, so we must approach pediatric hospitalization differently in our efforts to find ways to identify cost-saving strategies."
The study will be housed within UCLA’s Pediatric Medical Home, a primary care program founded in 2003 which now serves almost 200 medically complex children. Other UCLA team members include co-principal investigator Dr. Thomas Klitzner, executive director of the UCLA Pediatric Medical Home, as well as co-investigators Dr. Carlos Lerner, director of the UCLA Children’s Health Center; and Dr. Paul Chung, chief of general pediatrics and director of the pediatric health outcomes and quality program.