DHHS 'Healthy Outcomes' Seeks to Lower Health Costs

7:28 PM, Sep 25, 2013   |    comments
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Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- Every year visits to emergency rooms cost tax payers millions.

Now, a new initiative is aiming to bring some of those costs down. The South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services 'Healthy Outcomes' program seeks to save some of that money.

"We are all about outcomes," said Deirdra Singleton, Deputy Director in the Office of Health Programs. "We want to improve the outcomes of South Carolinians, and so this initiative really helps us move toward that way."

The program, if successful, may be used as a model for other hospitals across the state, Singleton said.

It is only being rolled out through the Palmetto Richland, Lexington Medical Center, and the Providence Hospitals.

"What the program will do is help individuals who are high utilizers [sic] of the (emergency room) to get a medical home and it should prevent them from having to go to the ER because by having a medical home, their needs are being coordinated." Singleton said.

According to the department, about 7,500 uninsured patients have utilized hospital emergency rooms in the past year, with nearly 600 hospital admissions.

That costs state tax payers about $38 million, according to information released by SCDHHS.

Part of the program calls for educating patients about health programs including upcoming health exchanges being rolled out next month.

Contacting the individuals will be the challenge.

"Each one of the plans - the proposals submitted - they have their own strategy as to how they're going to contact them," Singleton said. "Some of them will be phone calls, some of them will be face-to-face."

DHHS believes the education will eventually bring down the cost to tax payers.

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