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OBJECTIVE: Transitions of care are critical for individuals at risk of suicide. This study determined the return on investment (ROI) for providing postdischarge follow-up calls to patients at risk of suicide who are discharged from a hospital or an emergency department.

METHODS: Claims data were from the 2006-2011 Truven Health MarketScan Commercial Claims and Encounters Database and Multi-State Medicaid Database. Cost estimates were from eight call centers that provide postdischarge follow-up calls. The ROI was estimated for the 30 days after discharge and was calculated from a payer’s perspective (return gained for every $1 invested). One-way and probabilistic sensitivity analyses were used to examine the influence of variations of ROI model inputs.

RESULTS: Under base case assumptions, the estimated ROI was $1.76 for commercial insurance and $2.43 for Medicaid for patients discharged from a hospital and $1.70 for commercial insurance and $2.05 for Medicaid for those discharged from an emergency department. Variation in the effect size of postdischarge contacts on reducing readmission had the largest effect on the ROI, producing a range from $0 to $4.11. The ROI would be greater than $1 for both payers and across both discharge settings as long as postdischarge contact could reduce readmission by at least 13.3%. Sensitivity analyses indicated a 77% probability (commercial) and an 88% probability (Medicaid) that the ROI would be greater than $1 among hospital discharges; the probabilities among emergency department discharges were 74% (commercial) and 82% (Medicaid).

CONCLUSIONS: The study supports the business case for payers, particularly Medicaid, to invest in postdischarge follow-up calls.