NC providers to divert indigent from EDs

Concerned about the cost of providing care for indigent patients, group of eight North Carolina clinics, health systems and county agencies have set up a collective designed to streamline care for the uninsured. The CapitalCare Collaborative is working to make sure patients use less expensive nonprofit and county agencies for routine care rather than visiting the region's emergency departments. To help members coordinate such care, the group will share uninsured patients' financial and medical data in one location online. Right now, the average ED visit in Wake County costs $1,000--which hospitals largely absorb when the patient is indigent--but clinic visits cost as little as $80, notes CapitalCare president Susan Weaver. Once the providers kick off the program, however, they'll be able to make referrals to clinics, track patients throughout their course of care and use financial data to help patients sign up for drug industry discount programs. Just as importantly, patients will know where to turn when they need help.

To learn about the hospitals' program:
- read this News & Observer article