The Rockford Fire Department says some people are overusing 911. They were not the only ones to notice. SwedishAmerican Hospital even has name for these clients, they are called "high frequency patients." A new pilot program is bringing firefighters and SwedishAmerican Hospital workers together to pay these callers a home visit.
"911, where's your emergency?" asks a Rockford Fire Department 911 operator. Sometimes the person calling the Rockford Fire Department has called before, many times before, firefighters say. Even the hospitals know who they are.
"They are high frequency patients or we will sometimes call them super users and they are patients who use our emergency department more than 10 times in a year," says Dr. Kathleen Kelly,SwedishAmerican Hospital, chief clinical integration officer.
These are not uninsured or even under-insured patients, in fact, doctors say it's usually the opposite. Swedes has found a lot of times these patients have a social issue along with their medical condition. Which is why they think these people choose the emergency department over a traditional doctor's office.
"We are trying to encourage right time, right place care. And also trying to understand why the ED utilization is so high and why is it the first choice," says Dr. Kelly.
To do that the Rockford Fire Department and SwedishAmerica teamed up. They looked for the of the highest 911 users and asked if they could come visit them.
"We're coming out to individuals homes to check on them, make sure they have proper care, resources that they need," says Chief Derek Bergsten.
It's just a pilot program right now with only 12 patients enrolled. Rockford Fire has been testing this for a little more than a month. They think it's saved roughly $100,000, not to mention your time in the event of an emergency.
"We send one paramedic and it goes with one RN. We are not sending a fire apparatus or ambulance so now those units that would typically be responding to, transporting that patient to the hospital are available for emergency calls," says Bergsten.
According to Bergsten, Rockford is not the first to try preventive EMS. In some cases there are whole units devoted to it.
Rockford is testing this program for six months. The fire department says it invited the other two hospital to join in as well.