Reducing Readmissions and Medicaid Costs: Project Safe Landing

Principal Investigator(s)

Janice Pringle, PhD

The Allegheny County Overdose Prevention Coalition‘s (ACOPC) Safe Landing initiative is designed to improve identification of patients who are overdosing or are at increased risk for overdosing, and facilitate access to supportive and/or treatment services when patients affirm willingness. Safe Landing uses the evidence-based approach of Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) to identify and intervene with persons who are at elevated risk of harm from the use of alcohol and other drugs. Multiple strategies are employed for intervention, but all strategies respect the autonomy of the individual and are based on eliciting and strengthening the patient’s motivation to change and reduce or eliminate these hazards. Since early 2012, over 24,000 patients have been screened and approximately 2,400 have received brief interventions aimed at helping them reduce or eliminate their current level of alcohol and/or drug use. The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services and a collaborative of local Medicaid and commercial payers who have activated their SBIRT (in some cases for the purpose of this pilot) engaged in a study of adjudicated hospital claims and local behavioral health encounter data to determine if the interventions provided via Safe Landing resulted in fewer unnecessary 30-day readmissions and reduced healthcare costs compared with similar patients who receive Emergency Department (ED) services in a control hospital. The results of this evaluation were used to model programs, such as Safe Landing, and to activate SBIRT commercial and public billing codes in other Pennsylvania EDs.