Helping ACOs Avoid Unnecessary ED Visits and Improve Total Cost of Care

At the NAACOS Fall 2018 Conference earlier this month, we had the opportunity to speak with a number of ACO leaders. During those conversations, we heard some common themes over and over again. Not surprisingly, one of the most “popular” themes was around engaging physicians in driving down the total cost of care.

The number of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) has grown from 27 in 2012 to 561 in 2018. While ACOs were created as part of the Affordable Care Act, to help manage the increasing costs of healthcare, many still struggle to accomplish that goal even six years later. During that same time, the cost of Emergency Department visits has risen more than 31 percent to nearly $2000 per visit. And, research shows that up to 27 percent of those ED visits could have been avoided, through treatment in physician offices, clinics or urgent care centers at a savings of $4.4 billion annually (Weinick, Burns, & Mehrotra, 2010).

Managing Total Cost of Care

Wake Key Community Care (WKCC), with 1000 physicians and more than 210,000 lives under contract, has made great strides in managing Total Cost of Care. But, the ACO’s leadership sought to drive down unnecessary ED visits by improving direct access to on call specialists. They knew that with the ED as such a large cost driver, avoiding even a fraction of those visits would ensure that patients get better care while positively impacting costs.

With that goal in mind, WKCC selected RapidConnect as its preferred method of physician-to-physician communication, to streamline access to its on-call specialists and services.

“RapidConnect allowed providers to reach
a doctor specifically by name or merely by selecting the on-call provider for a particular service. Not only that, but because RapidConnect allows doctors to easily control their availability, the doctors didn’t have to worry about being contacted when they were off duty — it was a win-win situation,” said one physician.

ED Avoidance

A perfect example of ED avoidance involved a pediatric patient with suspected appendicitis. The normal course of action would have been to send the patient to the ED for further evaluation. However, through RapidConnect, the pediatrician reached out to the pediatric surgeon on call via secure text. Within two minutes, the pediatric surgeon received the message, called back, discussed the case and advised to send the patient directly to patient registration. The child was in surgery within two hours, and released to go home four hours after that.

Thanks to RapidConnect, the patient was able to avoid delays in the ED, potential unnecessary tests, delayed after-hours surgery and an overnight stay.

To learn more about how using RapidConnect is helping WKCC manage Total Cost of Care by avoiding unnecessary ED visits, see the use case here. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us.