Presbyterian Healthcare Services finds success in emergency care navigation program

Emergency room sign
Presbyterian Health Service's emergency department navigation program could be replicated by other providers, according to its CEO. (Getty/Nils Versemann)

Presbyterian Healthcare Services, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is at the forefront of healthcare innovation, and the system’s CEO says much of what has worked at Presbyterian can be replicated elsewhere.

Dale Maxwell, CEO of the eight-hospital system, said in an interview with Hospitals & Health Networks that its patient navigation model has been a particular success and other hospitals could apply the model at their organizations. 

DaleMaxwell
Dale Maxwell

Presbyterian Healthcare Services launched its patient navigation program in 2010. All patients who visit the emergency department receive a medical screening, and if they are not in “emergency status” they are transferred to a more appropriate setting, like an urgent care center or primary care facility, Maxwell said. This approach eliminates a costly ER visit and puts people in contact with providers that can offer more long-term patient care.

After the program's initial success at the system’s 453-bed Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque, it was expanded to other hospitals within the organization. As a result, Presbyterian Health Services has seen patient satisfaction rates increase and costs go down, Maxwell said.

RELATED: Maryland hospital hires patients as navigators

Other hospitals have also had success with patient navigators and found they are particularly effective in treating poor patients. Pilot programs have seen a drop in ER overuse, improvement in patient engagement and a decrease in treatment or diagnosis delays.

Presbyterian has also found success in other areas, according to Maxwell, including palliative care and telehealth services. Much of New Mexico is rural, he said, making telehealth especially important, as such programs can connect with such hard-to-reach populations.

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