Healthcare Providers Collaborate on Study to Try and Reduce Unnecessary Hospital Readmissions

Jul 14, 2017

In an effort to reduce unnecessary hospital readmission rates, the Eastern Maine Medical Center Emergency Department is partnering with primary care providers in a research study aimed at ensuring timely follow-up care.

Supported by a $75,000 Grant from Harvard Pilgrim, seven college-level interns with interests in healthcare or business management are working in shifts to secure next-day follow-up appointments with primary care providers. Dr. Heidi Larson, EMMC’s Medical Director for Population Health, is directing the project. Often Emergency Department patients are told they should contact a primary care provider for a follow-up. Larson says the patient likely is not feeling very well and may have to make their way through a phone tree.

“And they may be put on hold and they be told that the next available follow-up appointment isn’t for another week or two,” says Larson. “So what we do is by-pass that whole process by scheduling directly into the schedule of the patient’s primary care provider.”

Larson says getting a timely follow-up appointment makes it less likely the patient will end back in the Emergency Department and admitted to the hospital.