ER Patients - proving ground data sharing initiatives to cut costs

ER are always full of people who suffer from chronic health disease and are seeking for some help. But many times happens that patients undergo tests which could be avoided, just because they already made them into another ER nearby.

Dr. Arthur Sorrell often sees people entering San Francisco emergency room wearing the wristband of another hospital. But not everyone wears it. So, the ER treat them independently, making unnecessary tests, already made before at the previous hospital they went to.

This is all wasted time and, in order to avoid it, hospitals should have a quicker way to identify a patient, understanding his/her disorders, which medicines he/she takes, which tests they already made and so on.
But there are also cases in which, people who go to emergency rooms are only searching for food, a warm bed or someone to talk to.

Even if ER staff do know about visits to other hospitals, sharing information about the patient is a struggle.
Sorrell said:

“I have to tell my unit coordinator to call over to the other hospital and have them fax over the records”.

This reality for hospitals in Alameda County is about to change, anyway.
Thanks to a system called PreManage ED, hospitals will be able to track all of their ER patients. When an emergency department enters a patient’s name into the system, it gets an alert if that patient has visited other hospitals. If so, the emergency department staff can view information about the patient’s recent treatment and find out whether he or she already has a case manager somewhere else.

The system can also benefit the many patients who end up visiting multiple hospitals. If a patient already had an x-ray, CAT scan or other test at one hospital, for example, the shared database can help ensure he or she doesn’t get the same test again.

Since this program began on March 31, Alta Bated and Highland Hospitals have known thay shared more than 2,000 patients.

Anyway, sharing patients’ data about their tests can reveal an obstacle among hospitals.
Dylan Roby, an assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Health affirms that if a hospital is willing to share information with competitors depends on how it gets paid.
Hospitals participating in collaborative care networks that are paid monthly amounts for patient care also have an incentive to share information.
Roby said:

“But it’s not always in [hospitals’] financial interest to share data about patients”.

Indeed, for each individual patient visit they receive facilities which still depend on fee-for-service payments, that is to say that thay may prefer to fill their beds rather than collaborate with competing hospitals.

PreManage ED already is being used by hundreds of hospitals nationwide and what sets Alameda County’s effort apart is that it also plans to include community health clinics and other social service organizations, so they too will receive alerts from the hospitals when their patients seek emergency care.




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