NGA, states collaborate to cut down on frequent ER use

An initiative among six states, Puerto Rico and the National Governors Association aims to cut costs among those patients who regularly frequent hospital emergency rooms and use other expensive healthcare resources, reported Kaiser Health News.

"There's a handful of people who drive most of our spending," Dan Crippen, the executive director of the National Governors Association, told Kaiser Health News. He estimated such frequent users--which the NGA calls super-utilizers--account for up to 10 percent of all hospital patients and said that less expensive ways can be found to deliver their care.

Initiatives that stress coordinated care can often be successful in steering patients away from the ER when they do not need to patronize it. In Oregon, one facility in Bend has been able to cut visits by super-utilizer patients almost in half.

Crippen told Kaiser Health News that initiatives such as making sure patients can get their prescriptions filled even when they lack transportation to the pharmacy can make a difference.

In addition to Puerto Rico, Kaiser Health News reports that Alaska, Colorado, Kentucky, New Mexico, West Virginia and Wisconsin are participating in the initiative. Leaders from the states will meet to develop ideas, then implement them over the next 18 months.

To learn more:
- read the Kaiser Health News article
- check out the NGA press release