Louisiana health system pilots program to reduce repeat ER visits

Lafayette (La.) General Health System is implementing a pilot program to combat uncompensated care costs and prevent patients from returning to the emergency room, according to the Acadiana Advocate.

Lafayette General Health System saw approximately $250 million in uncompensated care last year, said Cian Robinson, executive director of Lafayette General Foundation. A large portion of the uncompensated care was due to patients who repeatedly visited the ER for unmet social service needs outside the medical realm, Mr. Robinson added.

The pilot program, called the Beacon Project, aims to connect these patients with social services before they leave the hospital to ensure they don't return to the ER. As patients are treated at the ER, their electronic medical records are screened. Patients with certain mental health needs and chronic medical conditions are automatically flagged to be connected with a social service referral agency.

The project aims to reach 1,000 patients in its first year. Organizers hope early success will help the program, which is the first of its kind in Louisiana, spread throughout the state.

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