Background — People living with HIV and multiple comorbidities have high rates of health service use. This study evaluates system usage before and after admission to a community facility focused on HIV care.
Methods — We used Ontario administrative health databases to conduct a pre-post comparison of rates and costs of hospital admissions, emergency department visits, and family physician and home care visits among medically complex people with HIV in the year before and after admission to Casey House, an HIV-specific hospital in Toronto, for all individuals admitted between April 2009 and March 2015. Negative binomial regression was used to compare rates of health care utilization. We used Wilcoxon rank sum tests to compare associated health care costs, standardized to 2015 Canadian dollars. To contextualize our findings, we present rates and costs of health service use among Ontario residents living with HIV.
Results — During the study period, 268 people living with HIV were admitted to Casey House. Emergency department use declined from 4.6 to 2.5 visits per person-year (p = 0.02) after discharge from Casey House, and hospitalization rates declined from 1.4 to 1.1 admissions per person-year (p = 0.05). Conversely, home care visits increased from 24.3 to 35.6 visits per person-year (p = 0.01) and family physician visits increased from 18.3 to 22.6 visits per person-year (p < 0.001) in the year after discharge. These changes were associated with reduced overall costs to the health care system. The reduction in overall costs was not significant (p = 0.2); however, costs of emergency department visits (p < 0.001) and physician visits (p < 0.001) were significantly less.
Interpretation — Health care utilization by people with HIV was significantly different before and after admission to a community hospital focused on HIV care. This has implications for health care in other complex patient populations.
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