Six hospitals in the Sutter Health and Alameda Health System in California’s East Bay region are using a new communication tool to better identify frequent, non-urgent patients arriving in emergency departments.

The hospitals, which have joined the program in stages since March, are using PreManageED software from Collective Medical Technologies to refer these patients to social services agencies, a complex care management program or primary care physicians, among other options. Or patients may receive other forms of non-medical assistance, such as a free bus pass to return to their families, or help to access housing or nursing care.

The numbers are staggering—since March, the six hospitals have registered more than 16,000 patients who could benefit from other forms of assistance, and the facilities say they share many of those patients.

When one of these patients comes in for care at an emergency department, the PreManageED software alerts physicians, care managers or social services workers and provides pertinent and recent health and visit information on the patients, enabling the hospitals to coordinate any care or services that may be needed.

The software already has been in use at nearly all hospitals in Washington and Oregon, and Medicaid utilization for those states is down about 10 percent.

Implementing the technology in the Bay Area is resulting in a cultural shift in how care is being delivered, says Arthur Sorrell, M.D., a physician informaticist and chair of the Sutter Emergency Department Leadership Council. “This tool will help us break down organizational silos and share information seamlessly across healthcare providers. Collaborative partnerships like this are a major step forward to benefiting our emergency teams and shared patients.”

The participating Bay Area hospitals are Alta Bates Summit’s Berkeley and Oakland campuses, Highland Hospital, San Leandro Hospital, Sutter Delta Medical Center and Eden Medical Center.

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