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What is the effect of patient navigators on emergency department utilization? (Case study at Memorial Hermann)

Memorial Hermann Health System (Houston) implemented a patient navigation program intended to decrease the rate of low acuity use of the emergency department.  The patient navigator is a community health worker, who is based in the emergency department, and typically meets with the patients there.  The objective is to connect patients to a medical home or otherwise help make connections to primary care resources.  The patient navigator then follows up within two weeks.  An analysis of the later ED utilization patterns of these patients found that having the patient navigators interact with patients was helpful in reducing the likelihood of later ED utilization for patients that were less frequent users of the emergency department.

Flow Chart: There is a flow chart of the patient navigation process.

Source: Enard, K.R.  Reducing preventable emergency department utilization and costs by using community health workers as patient navigators.  Journal of Healthcare Management;58(6):412-428, Nov.-Dec. 2013.  Click here for publisher’s website: http://www.ache.org/pubs/JHM/jhm_index.cfm  Posted by AHA Resource Center (312) 422-2050, rc@aha.org

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