Avoid ED visits with doc phone calls, coordination

Spectrum Health System in Michigan has been seeing success from new initiatives aimed at emergency department "frequent fliers," who had more than 20,000 total visits and cost at least $40 million last year, American Medical News reported.

Through its Center for Integrative Medicine, the health system employs case management interventions to address the medical, psychological and social needs of frequent ED users. In one such intervention, Medical Director R. Corey Waller takes after-hours calls from patients, noting that "a 10-minute conversation saves an ED visit."

Meanwhile, New York City's Bellevue Hospital Center incorporates phone calls into its care coordination efforts to keep patients from coming back to the ED so often. For example, it holds weekly conference calls among primary care doctors, visiting nurse services, methadone programs and substance abuse programs. The strategy proved to be successful as overall ED visits dropped 10 percent, while hospitalizations fell about 40 percent, noted amed news.

Similarly, nonprofit healthcare organizations in Chicago are reaching out to patients to prevent unnecessary ER visits and steer them toward more appropriate primary care settings. The six hospitals and more than 100 clinics and physician practices in the Medical Home Network call each patient after discharge to schedule follow-up appointments within a week, reported the Chicago Tribune.

So far, the program have seen some wins, with one clinic reporting that 65 of 70 patients kept scheduled follow-up appointments during the program's first three weeks. However, getting patients to accept accountability for their own health remains a challenge for care coordinators, the article noted.

For more information:
- read the amed news article
- here's the Chicago Tribune article