Program to help high-risk patients recognized for innovationby Elizabeth Stawicki, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — A physicians group is recognizing HealthPartners and St. Paul's Regions hospital for a program they've instituted to reduce the number of preventable hospital visits for high-risk patients.
The pilot project involved 27 patients, and saved an estimated $511,000 over two months. The Society of Hospital Medicine named the pilot program as most innovative.
Teams of doctors, nurses, and social workers developed specialized care plans for the 27 patients, according to HealthPartners' Dr. Rick Hilger. Many of the patients made frequent visits to the hospital as a result of complex medical problems, mental health disorders or drug addiction.
Hilger says the care plan is included in a patient's electronic medical record and flagged as a high priority.
"What we're trying to do is improve coordination of care for the highest-risk patients to improve their safety," he said. "Ultimately it will lead to an improvement in patient-centered, higher-quality, lower-cost care."
Hilger says nationally, the high-risk patients represent less than 1 percent of all patients, but account for as much as 22 percent of health care spending in the U.S.