UPMC Home Visits Target Unplanned Care in Emergency Departments
UPMC members who treat the ER as a primary care provider can expect a home visit from the health plan’s community teams of nurses and social workers. Community teams visit these members at home to perform assessments and care management.
That’s one of the ways UPMC Health Plan is reducing the rates of avoidable emergency room use, according to Debra Smyers, senior director of program development at UPMC, who presented these strategies during a recent webinar on Identifying, Engaging and Breaking Down Patient Barriers To Reduce Avoidable ED Use.
UPMC developed community teams to engage members who were having “unplanned care” — members who thought of the ER as their own personal PCP. These teams focus primarily on the Medicaid and special needs populations. UPMC sends health plan nurses and social workers into the community to visit the targeted members in their homes. These visits continue for a few months. Then, the nurse or social worker hands the member over to a different caregiver to continue the care.
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UPMC calls it a “real team approach;” they even have nurses located in the patient-centered medical home (PCMH) who can link members to an appropriate caregiver, explains Ms. Smyers. For instance, if the member is a smoker and wants to quit, the nurse would link that member to the lifestyle health coach who helps with smoking cessation.
UPMC Health Plan has also placed a patient navigator in the ER to educate patients on appropriate ER use. These navigators ask patients coming into the ER for a minor illness, such as for a sore throat, if there are any care alternatives they could use instead, such as visiting their PCP. Should the patient not have a PCP, the navigator will then help the patient to find one.
Originally, to identify patients using the ER inappropriately, UPMC would go through a monthly stratification process that included data from previous months. However, this identified patients too long after their ER visit, when it was irrelevant to help the patient. The health plan now uses actual registration data from the ERs to find their targeted patients.
With this new plan, UPMC was then able to reach the patient about their ER use on the actual day of the hospital visit. Also, to have a more direct focus on the different patients that were coming into the ER, UPMC stratified all patients into three targeted groups: those with high ER use, those with ER visits for conditions, and those patients with level 1 or 2 ER visits.
Smyers also discussed UPMC’s Connected Care Program to help improve care coordination for patients with serious mental illnesses. The health plan based this program on the PCMH model of care to address how physical and behavioral healthcare providers can manage the care of this specific population.
You can "attend" this program right in your office and enjoy significant savings — no travel time or hassle; no hotel expenses. It’s so convenient! Invite your staff members to watch the conference. We will send you a DVD or CD-ROM of the conference proceedings or a link to our web site with a username and password. You can log in and view the program right from your computer — any time of the day or night, whenever convenient for you and your colleagues — and benefit from the archived recording of the conference, including the Q&A period.
You'll get to listen to the question and answer session to hear strategies for locating dual-eligible patients in the community, the format of the patient navigator encounter, the frequency and format of home visits by community care teams, engagement rates for patients receiving a home visit, the role of the patient-centered medical home in reducing avoidable ER use, how the integrated care plan works for patients with physical and behavioral health conditions and incenting primary care physicians to reduce avoidable ER use through a pay-for-performance structure.
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