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Pilot project could improve health, cut costs

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By: Sarah Terry-Cobo The Journal Record

The physician and CEO of MyHealth Access Network needs other doctors and medical staff members to get on board to do more work in the same amount of time. They’ll need to ask sensitive social questions, like whether the person has enough food or has adequate transportation, as a part of the $4.5 million initiative, funded by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The result could help fill in the gaps of the non-medical reasons that keep people sick. That includes finding out whether Medicare and Medicaid recipients have enough nutritious food and can get to doctor’s appointments, and then connecting them with services to meet those needs. That could improve results for those with complicated and expensive diagnoses, like diabetes and high blood pressure.

Kendrick held two kickoff events recently, in Tulsa and in Oklahoma City, to connect with social workers and the others who he’ll need to participate in the project. His organization is like a data information highway, connecting electronic medical records from hospitals, clinics and county health departments from across the state.

Oklahoma City-County Health Department Executive Director Gary Cox said the project is a continuation of a pilot project his agency did that has proven to save money. Cox’s initiative had social workers working with Integris and Mercy emergency department workers to determine which patients used the ERs the most for non-emergency needs. They then connected them with social services or free clinics that can address preventive needs for some health conditions.

“That clinical care, as important as it is and as good as it is, only account for 10 percent of health outcomes,” Cox said.

Read the rest of the article at http://journalrecord.com/2017/09/26/pilot-project-could-improve-health-cut-costs/.