Six California hospitals team on interoperability to tackle ER overuse

Sutter, Alameda Health System and others to share real-time patient data via a portable health record called PreManage ED, to help redirect frequent flyers.
By Mike Miliard
10:57 AM
interoperability ER overuse

Six hospitals in the Bay Area are joining forces on an interoperability initiative to spur better-quality care for frequent emergency room patients.

Almost 40 percent of all ER visits in California are actually non-urgent: treatable in a primary care setting or avoidable with targeted and timely care. Some patients present at different ERs as many as three times a week, data show. Use of ERs for non-urgent care costs as much as $38 billion each year across the U.S., according to some estimates.

Spearheaded by Sutter Health and Alameda Health System, this new information sharing project is enabled via a secure, portable health record and care plan, PreManage ED, designed for high-utilization ER patients.

The PreManage ED communication technology keeps those six hospitals alerted when a frequent flyer checks into an ER at any one of them. Clinicians and staff can then respond quickly to make sure patients get care in the right setting.

"This tool will help us break down organizational silos and share information seamlessly across health care providers," said Arthur Sorrell, MD, physician informaticist and chair of the Sutter Emergency Department Leadership Council. "Collaborative partnerships like this are a major step forward to benefiting our emergency teams and shared patients."

PreManage ED, developed by Sandy, Utah-based Collective Medical Technologies, has already spotlighted opportunities for better care coordination since it was rolled out in participating hospitals this spring.

In addition to Alameda and Sutter, participating hospitals include Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland and Berkeley; Sutter Delta Medical Center in Antioch and Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley; Highland Hospital in Oakland and San Leandro Hospital in San Leandro.

Alta Bates Summit Medical Center registered 16,119 patients on the system – with nearly 10 percent of those having had six or more ER visits in the past year. Some 2,000 of them had also visited Highland Hospital's ER since April. Of those, 36 percent had 6 or more emergency room visits in the previous year.

"Continuity of care is critical to long-term wellness and chronic disease management," said David English, MD, Highland Hospital's associate chief medical information officer and an ED physician there. "Patients benefit from a more cohesive experience and providers can improve care based on shared knowledge which contributes to better outcomes."

Funding for the implementation includes philanthropic investment from Sutter Health's nonprofit foundation, Better Health East Bay, and the California Health Care Foundation. 

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