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Association Between Social and Economic Needs With Future Healthcare Utilization

Published:December 10, 2019DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2019.10.004

      Introduction

      Unmet social and economic needs are associated with poor health outcomes, but little is known about how these needs are predictive of future healthcare utilization. This study examined the association of social and economic needs identified during medical visits with future hospitalizations and emergency department visits.

      Methods

      Individuals with electronic health record–coded social and economic needs during a primary care, emergency department, or urgent care visit at Kaiser Permanente Northwest from October 1, 2016 to November 31, 2017 (case patients) were identified, as well as individuals who had visits during that time period but had no electronic health record–coded needs (control patients). The 2 groups were compared on sociodemographic characteristics, comorbidities, and healthcare utilization in the prior year. Finally, logistic regression assessed the relationship between documented needs and hospitalizations and emergency department visits in the 12 months following the index visit, controlling for sociodemographic characteristics, comorbidities, and prior healthcare utilization. Statistical analysis was completed in April 2019.

      Results

      Case patients differed significantly from control patients on sociodemographic characteristics and had higher rates of comorbidities and prior healthcare utilization. Social and economic needs documented during the index visit were associated with significantly higher rates of hospitalization and emergency department visits in the 12 months following the visit, controlling for sociodemographic characteristics, comorbidities, and prior utilization.

      Conclusions

      These results demonstrate that documented social and economic needs are a powerful predictor of future hospitalization and emergency department use and suggest the need for research into whether interventions to address these needs can influence healthcare utilization.
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