Meridian, a Michigan-based Centene subsidiary, said a program with companionship provider Papa reduced participant healthcare costs by 33 percent.
The pilot program with Papa ran from May to October of 2021. In an Oct. 6 news release, Meridian said the program paired Medicaid members aged 45 and over who had visited emergency departments five or more times in the past year with "Papa Pals."
These companions help address unmet social needs, like arranging transportation, helping with technology and reminding members about appointments.
Among the 163 program members, emergency department visits decreased by 25 percent, and hospital readmissions decreased by 14 percent.
"By connecting these individuals with Papa Pals, we were able to identify and address social and clinical needs and increase the proactive support and care associated with driving better health, while potentially helping to avoid more serious issues down the line," Kay Judge, MD, Meridian's chief medical officer said in the news release.