DOI: 10.1542/peds.2022-058268 ISSN: 0031-4005

Cost, Utilization, and Patient and Family Experience With ACO-Based Pediatric Care Management

Katherine H. Schiavoni, Megan Flom, Karen J. Blumenthal, E. John Orav, Margaret Hefferon, Erin Maher, Alexy Arauz Boudreau, Christopher P. Giuliano, Barbara Chambers, Mark H. Mandell, Maryann Vienneau, Mallika L. Mendu, Christine Vogeli
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology and Child Health


Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs have high healthcare utilization, fragmented care, and unmet health needs. Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) increasingly use pediatric care management to improve quality and reduce unnecessary utilization. We evaluated effects of pediatric care management on total medical expense (TME) and utilization; perceived quality of care coordination, unmet needs, and patient and family experience; and differential impact by payor, risk score, care manager discipline, and behavioral health diagnosis.


Mixed-methods analysis including claims using quasi-stepped-wedge design pre and postenrollment to estimate difference-in-differences, participant survey, and semistructured interviews. Participants included 1321 patients with medical, behavioral, or social needs, high utilization, in Medicaid or commercial ACOs, and enrolled in multidisciplinary, primary care-embedded care management.


TME significantly declined 1 to 6 months postenrollment and continued through 19 to 24 months (−$645.48 per member per month, P < .001). Emergency department and inpatient utilization significantly decreased 7 to 12 months post-enrollment and persisted through 19 to 24 months (−29% emergency department, P = .012; −82% inpatient, P < .001). Of respondents, 87.2% of survey respondents were somewhat or very satisfied with care coordination, 56.1% received education coordination when needed, and 81.5% had no unmet health needs. Emergency department or inpatient utilization decreases were consistent across payors and care manager disciplines, occurred sooner with behavioral health diagnoses, and were significant among children with above-median risk scores. Satisfaction and experience were equivalent across groups, with more unmet needs and frustration with above-median risk scores.


Pediatric care management in multipayor ACOs may effectively reduce TME and utilization and clinically provide high-quality care coordination, including education and family stress, with high participant satisfaction.

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