How Parkland Memorial cut ER costs through a 'frequent flier' program: 5 takeaways

Dallas-based Parkland Memorial cut costs from the emergency room's highest utilizers by launching an initiative that better serves patients vulnerable to readmission, according to a Politico report.

The 872-bed public hospital sees a large number of patients who frequently visit the ER, many of whom lack health insurance. Only two-thirds of Dallas's adult residents have health insurance of any kind, the lowest coverage rate of any large U.S. city.

Last year, Parkland Memorial spent $871 million on uncompensated care, which accounts for over half its budget and over 2 percent of unpaid hospital care provided nationwide.

To help patients better determine the proper setting for their healthcare needs, and thereby lower the cost of care, Parkland Memorial launched the Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation in 2015. The center aims to build a network of community-based social services.

Here are five takeaways from the program.

1. The PCCI initiative uses a case management system designed through an electronic portal. The system includes three different levels of consent. The first stage allows a patient's data to be used in an individual organization's record system, the second stage allows healthcare systems to access general information about a patient and the third stage allows healthcare providers and community organizations to share information about a patient's diagnosis and care needs.

2. The software platform then enables the hospital to refer homeless people who are discharged from its ER to shelters and pantries. Through the software, social workers can see what their clients are doing after discharge, including whether they are filling prescriptions or have a place to sleep. The software then helps providers estimate which patients may have to be readmitted to the hospital.

3. PCCI began using the software at a Dallas food pantry. Patients were more willing to agree to share their personal data when asked at a food pantry, where they were comfortable and had received support, than when they asked to share personal information during an ER visit.

4. Parkland Memorial cut visits for its highest ER utilizers by two-thirds or more on average since PCCI launched in 2015, which saved the hospital approximately $12 million.

5. PCCI aims to connect with 300 community groups by the end of 2018, which could include the city jail and fire department to assist with healthcare related emergency calls.

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