Simple Interventions Sometimes Most Effective

Monday, November 1st, 2010
This post was written by Patricia Donovan

With so much reform-era emphasis on bending the spend curve, we sometimes forget that the simplest interventions are often the most effective. For example, follow-up phone calls to select patients is a low-cost tactic getting significant results in a variety of healthcare settings.

In a featured story in this week’s Healthcare Business Weekly Update, U-M researchers report that patients suffering from depression who received follow-up calls from a primary office’s care manager were more likely a year and a half later to have symptoms in remission and be more productive at work. And post-visit phone calls to ER high flyers, ER patients presenting with low-acuity complaints and patients recently discharged from the hospital are helping to reduce avoidable ER visits, according to results from July’s Reducing Avoidable ER Use survey. Download survey results here.

“Perhaps the most underutilized technology in modern medicine is the telephone,” noted Group Health Cooperative VP of Primary Care Services Michael Erikson during a recent webinar on staffing and roles of the medical home care team. He should know. Group Health’s successful medical home pilot, which relied heavily on telephone outreach, reduced ER visits by 29 percent and in-person office visits by 6 percent, according to results published last year in the American Journal of Managed Care.

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