This study evaluated the cost-effectiveness and efficiency of Saskatoon District Health’s Quick Response Program (QRP), which identifies vulnerable elderly patients in the emergency department and arranges appropriate community services to avoid unnecessary hospital admissions. Chart reviews were conducted for all people over the age of 60 who visited emergency departments during an 11-week period in 1999. The study identified only two patients out of 3,074 who were not seen by the QRP and whose hospital admission could have been avoided with appropriate care in the community — a finding that shows the QRP is working very efficiently. An unexpected finding was that 46 patients visited the emergency department repeatedly (up to 19 times.) The study confirmed that the costs of providing community-based services initiated by QRP are lower than the costs of providing hospital care; but unless hospital beds are closed, QRP is an add-on cost.
This project was supported by the Health Transition Fund, which was created in 1997 to provide support for evidence-based decision-making in health care reform by supporting pilot and evaluation projects which test innovative approaches to health care delivery. The views expressed herein do no necessarily represent the official policy of federal, provincial, or territorial governments.