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Targeting top 911 callers can trim cost, improve patient care
Date:4/14/2011

tigators say. Each 911 call requires EMS to dispatch an ambulance to the caller.

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.

Collectively, the 10 callers made 520 calls to 911 in the year preceding their enrollment. Based on their call pattern from the previous year, the researchers estimated that these 10 people would make 100 calls to 911 during the three months of the program. Somewhat to the researchers' surprise, there were only 57 calls, nearly half as many as they had predicted.

Nine of the 10 patients had insurance, mostly through Medicare. All 10 patients had two or more chronic conditions, including hypertension, diabetes and heart disease. Seven had either a mental health or a substance abuse problem or both. The average age was 60 years, ranging from 39 to 89 years. The case manager referred patients to insurance assistance programs, medical specialists, adult-care services, food services like Meals on Wheels, psychiatric evaluation and support groups for substance abuse. Nearly 70 percent of the referrals were to non-medical services.

"This program highlights the importance of simple interventions that can yield powerful results," says co-investigator Kathleen Westcoat, M.P.H., of Baltimore HealthCare Access. "For example making sure that a diabetic pat
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Contact: Ekaterina Pesheva
epeshev1@jhmi.edu
410-926-6780
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Source:Eurekalert

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