Pilot program achieves 62% reduction in ER visits in its first year

A new pilot program through the Oahu Healthcare Partnership is finding success in its first year. The project aims to reduce the number of avoidable emergency room visits by identifying frequent users of the ER and targeting them with interventions. So far, the program has achieved a 62% reduction in ER visits in its first two cohorts of high ER utilizers. 


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The Oahu Healthcare Partnership is a forum for a broad range of health care industry leaders looking to collaborate on improvements to the state’s health care system. The Chamber of Commerce Hawaii and the University of Hawaii convene the partnership along with several other public partners.

One priority of the Partnership is system integration and promoting an integrated model of care.

With this priority in mind, health care leaders at The Queen’s Medical Center and Kalihi-Palama Health Center (KPHC) partnered together to form the pilot program.

The program formed two separate cohorts of high ER utilizers. The two groups were provided with interventions aimed to engage them in their own care, coordinate their care, and link them to other resources and services. 

“One of the weaknesses in the health care sector is the fragmentation of the system,” Dr. Emmanuel Kintu, CEO of Kalihi-Palama Health Center, says. “The system is fragmented. And so what we were trying to do is to see if there is a way in which, through our actions, we could ease or reduce the fragmentation.”

The goals of these services and supports are to assist this population with earlier and more efficient access to care, and to avoid the costs of emergency room care.

With access to these support, the first cohort, consisting of 17 individuals, reduced their ER visits from 145 to 55. The 18-person second cohort reduced their ER visits from 88 to 25.

Look forward, Kintu says several additional cohorts have been started, and Queens is now spreading this to other providers. 

“It’s no longer a pilot for us, it’s the way we do business now,” says Kintu.