From the Concord (NH) Monitor:
At the Family Health Center, a primary care practice in Concord that treats a large number of poor and uninsured patients, a simple change in scheduling policy has yielded a dramatic change in how often its patients visit the emergency room.
According to director Marie Wawrzyniak, after the practice shifted from the traditional model to one where many appointments are scheduled the same day and most are planned less than two weeks out, center patients used the emergency department 40 percent less than before.
“We’re proud of the decrease in visits by our patients,” Wawrzyniak said. “And we think it’s because they can get in to see us easier now.”
That case study may be food for thought for state officials as they consider a small subset of patients who are costing the state a lot of money in emergency room visits. A study released by the state Department of Health and Human Services this week found that 5,800 patients – about 5 percent of patients using Medicaid – cost $7.8 million from frequent visits to emergency rooms.
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