“Call Us First” Campaigns in Akron/Columbus Keeping Patients Out of the ER and Encourage Them To Visit Their PCP

National data highlights that approximately one-third of all emergency department visits for Medicare patients are for non-emergency conditions that could be treated in a primary care setting.  Physician leaders at Central Ohio Primary Care, Columbus, and Pioneer Physicians Network, Akron, say ER visits are also costly.  That’s why both Ohio physician groups teamed up to create the campaign, “Call Us First,” which encourages patients to contact their PCPs before heading to the ER.  The campaign will roll out in March 2020.  It was developed after surveys in showed that 80 percent of Medicare Advantage patients who used the ER didn’t call their primary care physician beforehand.

“Patients don’t believe or have the awareness they can call their PCP before making that ER decision,” admits Jason Swartz, COPC Senior Care Advantage Executive Director for Market Operations. “They don’t realize that the cost to see their primary care physician is $5 a visit versus the cost for an ER visit can run up to $100 or more.  Our mission is to educate patients that primary care physicians are at the center of all their healthcare needs.”

As part of the “Call Us First” campaign, patients will receive email blasts about the program, access to videos which highlight actual patients who were effectively treated without an ER visit, and posters and pamphlets will be on display in the COPC and Pioneer clinics.

“Avoiding unnecessary ER visits not only prevents wasteful spending ,but also lets us manage the patient’s medical condition in a more appropriate treatment setting,” says Mark McRoberts, Medical Director of Paradigm Senior Care Advantage who oversees the unnecessary ER visit reduction program in Akron.  “We also find that patient satisfaction improves greatly when they can see their own provider for an acute medical illness.”