Case study: Calif. hospitals help emergency department'frequent fliers'

As FierceHealthcare readers know, patients who show up in the emergency department repeatedly often don't need to be there--they need some other forms of social and medical support. Typically, workers in the ED have no time to assist them with other options. However, Sacramento, Calif.-based hospitals have been seeing some success from a new program designed to help ED "frequent fliers" get the help they need. 

Working with The Effort, a local nonprofit, area hospitals have developed a program they've named T-3 (triage, transport and treat) which helps get poor, homeless, mentally-ill and addicted ED patients into housing and supportive services like drug treatment. The program, which started in March 2005, is paid for by the county and local health systems.

Not only do the patients fare better, costs are much lower. By the end of June, T-3 had been able to discharge 295 people from local hospitals into alternative care, which costs $120 per day, instead of their racking up $1,200 per day as an inpatient. Patients referred by hospitals run by Sutter Health, Catholic Healthcare West, Kaiser Permanente and UC Davis Medical Center typically cost $2,498 per client, dramatically less than a comparable hospital stay.

To learn more about the program:
- read this Sacramento Business Journal piece

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