California Hospitals Working To Divert Non-Urgent Patients From EDs
Health systems across California are working with not-for-profit organizations to divert patients from emergency departments as wait times increase and more residents obtain health insurance, the Sacramento Bee's "Healthy Choices" reports.
From 2006 to 2011, ED use in California increased by 14%, according to Brian Jensen, regional vice president of the Hospital Council of Northern and Central California. Meanwhile, mental health admissions rose by 47%.
According Jensen, the increases have resulted in:
- Longer wait times; and
- More work for ED staffs.
Details of Efforts in Sacramento
In Sacramento -- where ED use increased by 33% between 2006 and 2011 -- hospitals are partnering with not-for-profit groups to provide alternative venues where uninsured and newly insured residents can receive care.
For example, Sutter Medical Center and Dignity Health are working with community-based providers to guide patients with non-urgent conditions away from the ED. Among other things, the health systems are providing navigators to help connect patients with insurers and primary care physicians.
Sutter has partnered with WellSpace Health -- a not-for-profit that serves low-income residents -- to operate the navigator program. Meanwhile, Dignity Health -- where about 59% of visits are for primary care -- last year partnered with Sacramento Covered and insurer Health Net.
Since Dignity's four EDs partnered with Sacramento Covered to provide the navigators, 60% of referred patients have not returned to the ED, according to "Healthy Choices" (Caiola, "Healthy Choices," Sacramento Bee, 11/15).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.