Controlled studies have shown that some care management interventions, which typically support patients with outreach and regular contact by trained individuals such as nurse case managers or health coaches, can have a positive impact on health quality measures like HbA1c for diabetes. However, the impact of care management on associated costs of care is mixed at best. In many studies, the goal of lowering average health care costs is not met and as a result, care management interventions are often dismissed as not cost-effective.
However, we believe that there is an under-appreciated beneficial impact of care management on health care economics that may be hiding in plain sight. Specifically, studies of such programs have typically focused on average per-patient costs as an outcome, but have not considered the program’s potential impact on cost variability across the patient population. As we detail below, a decreased variability implies greater predictability in utilization and costs in health systems.