Connecting Chronically Ill Patients To Safety Net Clinics Reduced ER Visits

Karoline Mortensen, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Department of Health Services Administration University of Maryland College Park, MDMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Karoline Mortensen, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Health Services Administration
University of Maryland
College Park, MD

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Mortensen: For twenty years, use of hospital emergency departments has been on the rise in the United States, particularly among low-income patients who face barriers to accessing health care outside of hospitals including not having an identifiable primary health care provider. Almost half of emergency room visits are considered “avoidable.” The Emergency Department-Primary Care Connect Initiative of the Primary Care Coalition, which ran from 2009 through 2011, linked low-income uninsured and Medicaid patients to safety-net health clinics.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Dr. Mortensen: “Our study found that uninsured patients with chronic health issues – such as those suffering from hypertension, diabetes, asthma, COPD, congestive heart failure, depression or anxiety – relied less on the emergency department after they were linked to a local health clinic for ongoing care,” says Dr. Karoline Mortensen, assistant professor of health services administration at the University of Maryland School of Public Health and senior researcher. “Connecting patients to primary care and expanding the availability of these safety-net clinics could reduce emergency department visits and provide better continuity of care for vulnerable populations.”

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Mortensen: The project provides promise not only for hospitals in Maryland but throughout the nation to improve health care experiences and outcomes for their patients. Shared learning systems were an integral component of the project so participants were learning from each other and sharing best practices throughout the project and that learning has now been documented and can be replicated in other communities.

“We created a learning system that permits us to sustain improved communication between patients and their providers, between hospital discharge planners and community based clinics, and across five hospitals operating in Montgomery County” says Barbara H. Eldridge, Manager of Quality Improvement at the Primary Care Coalition.

The initiative has proven successful in Montgomery County, Maryland and is being replicated in communities in other parts of the country.

Citation:

Linking Uninsured Patients Treated In The Emergency Department To Primary Care Shows Some Promise In Maryland

Theresa Y. Kim, Karoline Mortensen, and Barbara Eldridge

Health Aff May 2015 34:5796-804; doi:10.1377/hlthaff.2014.1102

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MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Karoline Mortensen, Ph.D. (2015). Connecting Chronically Ill Patients To Safety Net Clinics Reduced ER Visits