A few months before Terry Shaw became CEO of Adventist Health System, he got a call that his wife, Paula, was unconscious in the ED, after a truck collided with her pickup. Paula recovered from the accident—but the "nightmare" the Shaws experienced navigating post-acute care inspired Terry to launch a care navigation program at his own system, Ellie Kincaid writes for Forbes.
Navigating a post-acute care 'nightmare'
At the hospital—which was not part of Adventist Health—Paula received great care, Kincaid reports. However, navigating care after discharge proved challenging, Kincaid writes. Terry Shaw recalled, "I got handed this stack of discharge orders, and I went home with my wife and started to help her try to figure out how to get care out of the hospital, and it was a nightmare." He added, "After going through it for about six months we made the determination that this should never happen to people."
Promoting change at Adventist Health
From the experience, Shaw realized that his health own system wasn't any better, Kincaid reports.
So Shaw sought to make a change: In May 2018, the health system launched a care navigation program aimed at helping patients and caregivers with discharge instructions, appointment scheduling, and getting prescriptions, Kincaid writes.
This year has been a "learning year" for the new program, Shaw said, and the health system has learned some valuable lessons. "One of the lessons we had to learn is that in order to get people seen by a physician, many times you have to spend more time working on schedules than you may have thought," Shaw said.
And there have been success stories that give Shaw confidence that the program will work. For instance, a blind 41-year-old woman came into an Adventist ED after losing Medicaid coverage. At the time, she hadn't seen a doctor in over a year or taken her medication for more than eight months. "Instead of treating her in the [ED] and letting her go, we said, 'Listen, we really need to do something about how it is we help you,'" Shaw said. Adventist's care navigation program helped her regain Medicaid coverage again, get rides to her doctor's appointments, and receive her $1,000/month medication at no cost (Kincaid, Forbes, 8/14).
Learn more: Expand the role of patient navigation in the ED
Learn about common ED-based roles designed to improve patient care coordination and provide targeted support for higher-risk patients.