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Pediatrics. 2017 Apr;139(4). pii: e20162969. doi: 10.1542/peds.2016-2969. Epub 2017 Mar 1.

Care System Redesign for Preterm Children After Discharge From the NICU.

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Department of Pediatrics, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York;
Department of Pediatrics, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas.
Arkansas Children's Research Institute, Little Rock, Arkansas; and.
Children's Hospital Colorado, Aurora, Colorado.


Approximately 1 in 8 children in the United States are born preterm. Existing guidelines and research examine the cost of prematurity from the NICU stay and developmental surveillance and outcomes after discharge from the NICU. Preterm children are at greater risk for excess hospitalizations, outpatient visits, and societal costs after NICU discharge. Improved delivery of care and health promotion from the community setting, particularly from the patient-centered medical home, may result in improved growth, health, and development, with accompanying reduction of post-NICU discharge costs and encounters. There has been comparatively little focus on how to promote health and wellness for children born preterm, particularly for community-based providers and payers. Accordingly, health care delivery for NICU graduates is often fragmented, with little guidance on medical management beyond tertiary care follow-up. In this article, we use what is known about chronic care and practice transformation models to present a framework for health care system redesign for children born preterm. We discuss the rationale for NICU graduates as a priority population for health system redesign. Promotion of health and wellness for children born preterm who are discharged to the community setting entails population health management from the patient-centered medical home; comanagement, clinical care protocols, and clinical support from the tertiary care-based tertiary care-based center; and a favorable payer strategy that emphasizes support for chronic care management. Practical suggestions are provided for the practicing physician for the child born preterm as health care systems are redesigned.

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