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Tackling Hospital Readmissions, How is EMS Positioned?

Larry Malloy | Jul 12, 2013

As I attend conferences across the country, I often hear those in the emergency services industry talk about how they are “positioned” to help hospitals reduce emergency room readmissions. However, when I ask for details of how they plan to help, I am often given vague generalities. EMS agencies may have the ability to help hospitals reduce readmissions, but they are not the only game in town. In an article in the Denver Business Journal entitled, "Colorado Nonprofit will Tackle Hospital Readmissions” many hospitals and doctors have struggled with this challenge for years with no clear plan, strategy or partnership.  According to the article, within Colorado, a non-profit organization is going to  launch an initiative to reduce readmissions by creating a collaborative effort among healthcare organizations/individuals through funds provided by a grant.

However, for emergency services to be able to contribute to this process, it’s imperative that you begin now to better understand your local emergency room’s unique needs.  Here are a few suggestions to better position your organization to help your local hospital(s) reduce emergency room readmissions as health care reform takes shape.

  • Begin Now: It takes time to understand specific needs, build trust and establish value, therefore be proactive in setting an appointment with the Emergency Room Medical Director, of the your local hospital(s), right away.

  • Listen: Your first few meetings should be spent asking questions and listening to better understand the unique needs of that emergency room. Don’t assume you know what their needs are, listen with and open mind and inquisitive heart.

  • Start Small: Offer to help them with a very specific “smaller” challenge, but one that will make an impact to their bottom line.

  • Demonstrate and Communicate Value: Measure your results and leverage data to demonstrate value and support your claims. Put everything in financial terms of either additional revenue they received or money they saved. Meet with the Director at least monthly if not more frequently.

  • Practice Delayed Gratification: Don’t expect to get paid until you can demonstrate value for your services. This may take a little time, but will be worth it in the end as you minimize the likelihood that they will use your competition. Also, don’t forget to search for funding through less obvious alternative sources. According to the Denver Business Journal article, The Colorado Hospital Association (CHA), through a research grant funded by the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality (AHRQ), has offered grants through Project RED.

Has your agency had successful contributions in helping emergency room’s reduce readmissions? Add your success stories and comments below to share with other organizations...

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