Columbia Medical Associates (CMA) of Spokane, WA chose to tackle runaway medical costs by taking a deep dive into the data pool, searching for areas where resources were being expended needlessly. The first glaring point: They had to reduce emergency room utilization without sacrificing patient care. One solution: Teach patients the concept of seeking the “right care at the right time.” That included getting them to realize they could be seen efficiently and receive excellent care in CMA’s own urgent care centers, as well as helping them realize when they truly did need to see their own primary care provider or go to the ED. One step they took internally was to revise the duties of its triage nurses to provide more bandwidth for answering calls, and giving them more latitude to schedule patients directly into the system. In the end, CMA reported that ED utilization per 1,000 patients dropped 15%; patient satisfaction with urgent appointments rose 16%; and avoidable ED admissions fell by 7%—at a savings of more than $6.5 million.

Medical Group Saves $6.5 Million by Focusing on the ‘Right Care at the Right Time’
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