Significant reductions in tertiary hospital encounters and less travel for families after implementation of Paediatric Care Coordination in Australia

Christie Breen, Lisa Altman, Joanne Ging, Marie Deverell, Susan Woolfenden, Yvonne Zurynski

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35 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Over a third of Australian children have long-term health conditions, often involving multiple organ systems and resulting in complex health care needs. Our healthcare system struggles to meet their needs because of sectoral fragmentation and episodic models of care. Children with medical complexity (CMC) currently rely on tertiary paediatric hospitals for most of their healthcare, but this is not sustainable. We evaluated the impacts of Care Coordination on tertiary hospital service use and family outcomes.

Methods: A pre- and post-implementation cohort evaluation of the Care Coordination service at a tertiary paediatric hospital network, was undertaken. From July 2015 CMC enrolled in the service had access to a Care Coordinator, shared-care plans, linkage with local general practitioners (GPs), and access to a 24-h Hotline from August 2016. CMC were those with ≥4 emergency department (ED) presentations, hospital stays of ≥14 days, or ≥ 10 outpatient appointments in 12 months. Medically fragile infants at risk of frequent future hospital utilisation, and children with medical problems complicated by difficult family psychosocial circumstances were also included. Care Coordinators collected outcomes for each enrolled child. Administrative data on hospital encounters 6 months pre- and post-enrolment were analysed for children aged > 6 months.

Results: An estimated 557 hospital encounters, were prevented in the 6 months after enrolment, for 534 children aged > 6 months. ED presentations decreased by 40% (Chi2 = 37.95; P < 0.0001) and day-only admissions by 42% (Chi2 = 7.54; P < 0.01). Overnight admissions decreased by 9% but this was not significant. An estimated Au$4.9 million was saved over 2 years due to prevented hospital encounters. Shared-care plans were developed for 83.5%. Of 84 children who had no regular GP, 58 (69%) were linked with one. Fifty-five (10%) of families were linked to the 24-h Hotline to enable remote access to support and advice. Over 50,000 km of family travel and 370 school absences was prevented.

Conclusions: The Care Coordination service has clear benefits for the tertiary paediatric hospital network and for families. Ongoing evaluation is essential for continuous improvement and to support adjustments to the model according to the local context.
Original languageEnglish
Article number751
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Sept 2018

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2018. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Children with medical complexity
  • Care coordination
  • Integrated care
  • Models of care
  • Chronic disease


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