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.