Intensive Care for Repeat 911 Callers Can Save Money

This particular report about Operation Care in Baltimore reminded me of this post I made about how preventative care for the most frequent health care users can reduce costs.  The idea for Operation Care was that every time a 911 call is made, emergency or not, dispatch has to send out an ambulance, which costs money (as not all insurance companies reimburse the ambulance companies enough to cover their costs) and takes resources away from true emergencies.

In 2007, two Baltimore City residents were responsible for more than 60 emergency calls, another resident made 110 calls to 911, and yet another one made 147 such calls […].

Repeated 911 callers, the researchers reasoned, may face problems such as lack of health insurance and access to routine medical care or an inability to navigate the labyrinth of healthcare services. The findings of the study suggest they were mostly right. Examining a year’s worth of 911 call logs, the researchers identified Baltimore City’s 25 most frequent 911 callers, 10 of whom enrolled in the three-month program for weekly sessions with a case worker who assessed their medical needs, taught them how to navigate the health care system, put them in touch with primary care physicians and specialists, referred them to various support programs and educated them on ways to limit 911 calls to true emergencies.

So, how did it work?  It nearly halved the frequent callers’ 911 usage (though not for true emergencies).  Money-wise….

In three months, the program generated savings of more than $14,300[…]. The real savings are probably greater, as this number did not factor in any money saved from unnecessary trips to the ER and freeing up ambulances for other callers.

It’s always great to see innovative ideas like this being given more study.

(cross-posted to Tumblr:  Intensive Care for Repeat 911 Callers Can Save Money)

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