The Philadelphia Inquirer had an interesting piece Monday about a successful initiative in Camden, NJ (one of the poorest cities in the U.S.) that has dramatically reduced ED visits and readmissions. Among other things, a coalition of primary care providers has banded together to get more patients to see PCPs instead of going straight to the ED. (Appropriate patients are referred from the ED to these providers, for eg). Open-access scheduling, electronic prescribing and chronic disease registries also further the goal of preventive medicine that keeps patients from getting to the point where they need to go to the ED, or need to be admitted to the hospital.
The result? Monthly ED visits down by 32%, hospital admissions–and charges–down by 56%.
Granted, this is only a pilot program, but as Atul Gawande pointed out in a New Yorker article, such small pilots helped revolutionize agriculture in the U.S. so that food costs–which once ate up (ahem) a large portion of household budgets– dropped to a more manageable level. Which, of course, is what needs to happen with escalating personal healthcare costs, as well.
*This blog post was originally published at ACP Hospitalist*