Four-Point ‘Call First’ Campaign Cuts Avoidable ER Visits

Friday, November 19th, 2010
This post was written by Jessica Fornarotto

A multi-pronged member education program is helping to route patients to the most appropriate healthcare venue, explains Sara Tracy, senior manager of emergency services at Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Colorado.

When we looked at contact for members prior to the accessing services in the ED, we found that 46 percent of our members contacted us prior to going to the ED. Our first strategy in reducing avoidable ED visits was trying to get our members to call us first. We know that when they talk to us, we are more likely to get them to the correct venue, either to our contracted hospital or to an after-hour service if that’s necessary, or even home treatment. The goal in that strategy is to educate our members on their advice options.

We have four tactics to try to meet that goal. The first tactic was member education in a quarterly member newsletter. This newsletter includes articles on nurse advice and reminders of a 24-hour service that’s available to them. Additionally, we put magnets in all of our new member packets that promote the advice service. There is a magnet in their new member kit that advertises our 24/7 nurse advice and how we can help them. Those same magnets were also put on our medical office front desks that advertise the service to remind members that they always have options in order to access advice when they’re not sure what to do.

Finally, we standardized scripting at the end of phone calls and visits in all of our offices regarding the availability of our 24-hour advice service. When a member is seen in the office or talks to someone on the phone, before they conclude the call, the nurse or the physician reminds them that if their condition changes or worsens, they can always call us back 24 hours a day. They then give the member the phone number to call.

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