Objective: The study attempted to identify whether chronic mentally ill persons after receiving intensive case management (ICM) could demonstrate improved inpatient service utilisation compared with a matched control group cohort. Costings were measured to observe whether the increase in providing intensive outpatient contacts would be offset by savings in reduced inpatient service utilisation.
Method: Eighty ICM patients were matched on ICD-9 diagnosis, age, gender, length of illness, age at first inpatient and outpatient contact, marital status, educational level, employment status, country of birth, year of arrival to Australia and religion. Inpatient bed-days and outpatient contacts were recorded and compared 12 months prior to ICM treatment, 12 and 24 months after ICM using within/between group repeated measures analysis of variance.
Results: The ICM group demonstrate significant reductions in inpatient service utilisation both within the 12- and 24-month period after receiving ICM treatment. The cost differential by 24 months of treatment was $801 475 in favour of the ICM model. The increase in costs of outpatient contacts were offset by a significant reduction in inpatient service utilisation.
Conclusion: When outpatient contacts averaged one contact a week for the duration of the study period no significant reductions in inpatient service utilisation was recorded, as demonstrated by comparison with the matched control group. By increasing outpatient contacts by 3–4 contacts a week, inpatient contacts reduced by 36.8%. ICM is an efficacious and cost effective way to implement community-based services to the chronically long-term mentally ill.