Health-care superusers overload hospital ERs

From MCall:

Through a grant funded by the federal Affordable Care Act, the Lehigh Valley Super-Utilizer Partnership came into being 21/2 years ago, hoping to emulate the work of Dr. Jeffrey Brenner, a Camden, N.J., family doctor. He is the face of a different approach to providing care to patients like Bolster.

In a nutshell, Brenner’s theory is that stability is needed in a person’s life before health-care can be addressed effectively. To achieve that stability, he finds patients who draw heavily on the system and, if they’re willing, surrounds them with services specific to their medical, mental, domestic and social needs, until their health-care use is brought under control, which could take weeks or even months. By returning this missing stability to the patients’ lives, Brenner and his supporters believe, health-care spending can be reduced substantially while patients’ wellbeing and independence can improve.

Awarded the $1.7 million grant in 2012, the 10-person team in Allentown went looking for the hardest health-care cases — people who had been hospitalized at least twice in six months for complex illnesses, had at least two chronic conditions and regularly consumed six or more medications.

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