How a Tennessee hospital cut uninsured ED visits by nearly 70%

Memphis, Tenn.-based Regional One Health is seeing uninsured emergency department visits drop under a new model that aims to help chronically ill patients navigate the safety-net system.

The model, called ONE Health, has helped coordinate care and connect 224 repeat ED or inpatient hospital users to social services, according to healthcare journalist Bara Vaida, whose article was published by Health Affairs. Under the nurse-led model, Regional Health directs high-ED users to benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and subsidized housing through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, among other services.

Regional One launched the model due to rising uninsured ED visits and unsustainable uncompensated care costs. From July 2016 to June 2018, nearly half of the hospital's roughly 35,500 ED visits were made by uninsured patients. Among uninsured patients, 774 used the ED between 10 and 210 times, costing the hospital a collective $20.2 million, according to the article. 

Over a 15-month period, ONE Health helped lower uninsured ED visits by 68.8 percent. Uninsured inpatient admissions declined even more — 75.4 percent — and lengths of stay fell 78.6 percent. Regional One estimates the decreases led to $7.5 million in healthcare savings.

Reginald Coopwood, MD, CEO of Regional One, told Ms. Vaida the results are so promising that the health system is looking to expand ONE Health to Medicare and Medicaid patients.

Read Ms. Vaida's full recap of the model here.

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