Multidisciplinary care teams may improve health and control total cost for children with medical complexity (CMC). We aim to quantify the time required to perform nonreimbursed care coordination activities by a multidisciplinary care coordination program for CMC and to estimate the direct salary costs of that time.
From April 2013 to October 2015, program staff tracked time spent in practicably measured nonbilled care coordination efforts. Staff documented the discipline involved, the method used, and the target of the activity. Cost was estimated by multiplying the time spent by the typical salary of the type of personnel performing the activity.
Staff logged 53 148 unique nonbilled care coordination activities for 208 CMC. Dietitians accounted for 26% of total time, physicians and nurse practitioners 24%, registered nurses 29%, and social workers 21% (1.8, 2.3, 1.2, and 1.4 hours per CMC per month per full-time provider, respectively). Median time spent in nonreimbursed care coordination was 2.3 hours per child per month (interquartile range 0.8–6.8). Enrollees required substantially greater time in their first program month than thereafter (median 6.7 vs 2.1 hours per CMC per month). Based on 2015 national salary data, the adjusted median estimated cost of documented activities ranged from $145 to $210 per CMC per month.
In this multidisciplinary model, care coordination for CMC required substantial staff time, even without accounting for all activities, particularly in the first month of program enrollment. Continued advocacy is warranted for the reimbursement of care coordination activities for CMC.