Wisconsin hospital uses social workers to reduce ER 'frequent fliers'

A pilot project at Milwaukee, Wisconsin's Aurora Sinai Medical Center seeks to divert emergency room "super-users" through the use of social workers, National Public Radio reports. Aurora Sinai placed social workers in the ER and then identified 313 "frequent flier" patients whose ER use accounted for 1,827 of the hospital's ER visits over a four-month period. They then chose 39 frequent fliers and worked with them over eight months to improve their habits and encourage them to instead visit a primary care doctor or clinic when they needed medical care. The social workers helped each patient formulate a plan for medical treatment, including finding transportation, securing child care and making an appointment. Over the first four months of the program, ER visits among participants dropped by 68 percent and costs dropped from $1.5 million to $440,000. Article