Health Services Research & Development

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Cartmell KB, Dismuke CE, Dooley M, Mueller M, Nahhas GJ, Warren GW, Fallis P, Cummings KM. Effect of an Evidence-based Inpatient Tobacco Dependence Treatment Service on 1-Year Postdischarge Health Care Costs. Medical care. 2018 Oct 1; 56(10):883-889.
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Abstract: BACKGROUND: In 2014, the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) implemented a Tobacco Dependence Treatment Service (TDTS) consistent with the Joint Commission (JC) standards recommending that hospitals screen patients for smoking, provide cessation support, and follow-up contact for relapse prevention within 1 month of discharge. We previously demonstrated that patients exposed to the MUSC TDTS were approximately half as likely to be smoking one month after discharge and 23% less likely to have a 30-day hospital readmission. This paper examines whether exposure to the TDTS influenced downstream health care charges 12 months after patients were discharged from the hospital. METHODS: Data from MUSC's electronic health records, the TDTS, and statewide health care utilization datasets (eg, hospitalization, emergency department, and ambulatory surgery visits) were linked to assess how exposure to the MUSC TDTS impacted health care charges. Total health care charges were compared for patients with and without TDTS exposure. To reduce potential TDTS exposure selection bias, propensity score weighting was used to balance baseline characteristics between groups. The cost of delivering the MUSC TDTS intervention was calculated, along with cost per smoker. RESULTS: The overall adjusted mean health care charges for smokers exposed to the TDTS were $7299 lower than for those who did not receive TDTS services (P=0.047). The TDTS cost per smoker was modest by comparison at $34.21 per smoker eligible for the service. DISCUSSION: Results suggest that implementation of a TDTS consistent with JC standards for smoking cessation can be affordably implemented and yield substantial health care savings that would benefit patients, hospitals, and insurers.