Snohomish County received a $30,000 grant from the Amerigroup Foundation on Thursday to study better ways to reduce costs associated with emergency health care within the region and across the state.
The results of the study, which will include data sharing and analysis among emergency care providers, will serve as a pilot for other communities to identify and provide better interventions and care for all those in need.
With a match from the county, the study has three overarching goals:
-Improving individuals’ access to care, including getting them the right services at the right time;
-Improving the overall health options and outcomes of individuals who now would typically be transported to an emergency room for treatment following a 9-1-1 call;
-Reducing taxpayer costs associated with health-care costs by lessening the need for emergency room transports because better treatment options are available.
“Because Snohomish County is responsible for overseeing millions in grant funds for human services, we should help coordinate better options for people who don’t necessarily need a trip to the emergency room when they call 9-1-1,” said Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon. “With the funding from the Amerigroup Foundation, we’ll be able to continue the work we’ve already started.”
Health-care costs continue to rise driven in part by the fact that individuals in need of services are not getting the right service at the right time. One example includes people in a non-medical-related crisis calling 9-1-1 and being transported to the emergency room, only to determine there is no acute medical need. These types of calls cost millions of dollars in Snohomish County alone, and, these individuals usually do not get the services they really need.
Snohomish County will conduct a comprehensive analysis of the hospital, fire district emergency services, mental-health and chemical-dependency databases to identify the frequency of high users within and across these systems. The study will determine how much cost there is to each system and determine how to implement more effective and lower-cost health services.
“It’s this type of study that will help lower costs across the board and make health care more affordable for all residents of Snohomish County, this state and possibly across the nation,” said Rosy Cozad, CEO and president of Amerigroup Washington. “We’re pleased to be helping Snohomish County further the work that will benefit millions of people.”
Snohomish County began its analysis six months ago and will use the results to improve access to care, improve health outcomes and reduce avoidable costs. One of the key factors of this study is the cooperation from all parts of the health-care system, including the 9-1-1 call takers, EMS responders and the emergency rooms and hospitals.
The outcome should be better coordination of alternative health-care options, regulatory reform and overall cost-savings opportunities.
“Once we identify how each system is used and what patterns exist, we’ll be better equipped to look at ways to improve them,” said Ken Stark, Snohomish County’s Human Services director. “We have already begun the analysis and are excited about the potential results.”