HealthPartners, Regions Reduce Preventable Hospital Visits

65 percent reduction in ER visits, admissions for high-risk patients

ST. PAUL, Minn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- A new program at HealthPartners and Regions Hospital reduced preventable hospital visits by 65 percent among patients who frequently sought care in the emergency department. The program was named the Most Innovative by the Society of Hospital Medicine and was selected from among 750 abstracts to be presented at the SHM annual meeting on Tuesday, April 3, 2012 in San Diego.

One percent of patients, 22 percent of costs
HealthPartners and Regions Hospital implemented the program last August for more than two dozen at-risk patients. Nationally, these high-risk patients represent less than 1 percent of all patients, but they account for as much as 22 percent of all health care spending in the U.S. Research shows that a large percentage of these costs can be attributed to frequent, but often preventable use of the emergency room and hospital admissions.

Increasing access to primary care, specialists
A team of providers including nurses, social workers, physicians, physician assistants, case managers, and other staff, worked with patients to create plans that increased access to primary care providers, specialists and programs. The care plan is embedded in a patient’s electronic medical record and is flagged as a high priority to ensure that the information is visible to providers and staff at HealthPartners five hospitals and 25 medical clinics who care for these patients.

Restricting narcotic medications
Narcotic medications are restricted in the ER to prevent inappropriate use except when necessary to treat medical conditions that are not related to complaints about chronic pain. Patients with suspected narcotic addiction are referred to chemical dependency treatment programs.

The HealthPartners program implemented care plans for 27 high-risk patients. Data from two months before care plan implementation were compared to data two months after implementation. The number of ER visits and hospital admissions decreased 65 percent and resulted in an estimated cost savings of $511,000.

“This pilot study suggests that individual care plans can significantly improve care for this vulnerable subgroup of patients and lower health care costs,” said Rick Hilger, MD, a HealthPartners hospitalist at Regions Hospital. The care plan summary report can be found on


Regions Hospital
Pat Lund 651-254-4731
[email protected]

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