Hoping to reduce unnecessary emergency room visits, a San Diego hospital and three clinics are testing a new computer system that makes it easier for ER doctors to send patients to community clinics for follow-up appointments.
The pilot program, called Impact ED, allows ER staff at the 470-bed University of California at San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest to directly make appointments in the scheduling systems for three area clinics operated by San Diego Family Care, a not-for-profit corporation.
The program is designed to create a direct link between a patient and a clinic before the patient leaves the ER.
The program's software was built around UCSD's electronic medical-records system. Computers used by doctors, nurses and ER clerks alert them whenever a patient doesn't have a primary-care physician and comes from one of nine ZIP codes clustered around the clinics that are participating in the pilot program.
Once that happens, the ER staffer can access the appropriate clinic's appointment system through a secure Internet portal and schedule a follow-up appointment for the patient before the patient leaves the hospital. Clinic staffers can use contact information provided by the hospital to remind the patient by telephone about the upcoming appointment.
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