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Unscheduled admissions to hospital place great demands on the use of limited healthcare resources in health systems worldwide. A range of approaches exist to manage demand; however, interventions within hospitals have received less attention, and the evidence base on effectiveness is limited. This study aimed to assess the effectiveness of a novel intervention, implemented in National Health Service Lothian, to reduce the number of unscheduled attendances, and to estimate the impact on hospital admissions, length of hospital stay and overall total acute hospital costs. METHODS: Before and after observational study of an anticipatory care planning intervention targeted among people identified by a prediction algorithm (Scottish Patients at Risk of Readmission and Admission) as being at high risk of future unscheduled hospital admissions. The statistical significance of the difference in outcomes observed before and after implementation of the intervention between August 2014 and July 2015 was tested using difference-in-difference analysis. RESULTS: The intervention was estimated to reduce the number of unscheduled hospital admissions and emergency department (ED) visits by approximately 0.36 (95% CI -0.905 to 0.191) per patient per year (based on 954 and 450 patients in the intervention and control groups, respectively). There was also non-significant reductions in length of hospital stay for unscheduled admissions and hospital costs for ED visits and inpatient care. The overall predicted effect of the intervention for the average participant was a saving of around £2912 (95% CI -7347.0 to 1523.9) per patient per year. CONCLUSION: An anticipatory care planning intervention focused among people judged to be at higher risk of future unscheduled hospital admissions can be effective in reducing the number of unscheduled admissions to hospital and ED visits, and may lead to an overall saving in use of hospital resources.

Original publication





BMJ Health Care Inform

Publication Date





BMJ health informatics, information management, patient care, Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Emergency Service, Hospital, Female, Hospital Costs, Humans, Length of Stay, Male, Middle Aged, Patient Care Planning, Patient Readmission, Socioeconomic Factors, State Medicine, United Kingdom, Young Adult