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07.14.2016

How Magnets Are Helping Avoid Unnecessary Emergency Department Visits

by Kelly Tystad and Joan Moya

At Complete Family Care, we’ve learned that a small magnet can make a big difference. Since the start of the year, we’ve been giving magnets to all our Medicare patients. The magnets have a simple message: “Call Before You Go.” It’s a reminder to our patients that we have a doctor on call 24 hours a day, and if they are feeling ill, they should call us first. In recent months, we’ve seen that the magnets have had an impact.

One story vividly illustrates how the magnets are helping patients avoid unnecessary Emergency Department (ED) visits. A Complete Family Care patient with a history of congestive heart failure started to have lower extremity edema late at night. This was the seventh time over the last several months he had swelling in his legs, and every time, the patient went to the ED. Each time the swelling was not a blood clot. After receiving the magnet, the patient decided to call Dr. McBratney. After reviewing his medical history, Dr. McBratney talked to the patient and recommended he take an extra Lasix pill. By morning, the swelling had gone down, and the patient avoided a costly and unnecessary ED visit. We believe that reducing unnecessary ED visits is both good medical practice and good business sense. Patients do not want to spend hours in an emergency room when there are better, less costly options.

Another example highlights how the magnets can aid transitions in care management. A Complete Family Care patient was having a hypoglycemic event, again late at night. His wife called 911, but then, triggered by the magnet, remembered to contact the on call doctor as well. She told the on call doctor that her spouse was on the way to the ED, enabling the doctor to contact the ED and provide background information on the patient. That one-minute phone call helped the ED better prepare to receive the patient and our office was able to follow up with the patient upon discharge.

At Complete Family Care, we believe patient communication is paramount. Having a doctor on call reinforces that we care about our patients and will respond to their needs and concerns all hours of the day. We take pride in providing high quality care, and we recognize that an important aspect of quality care is peace of mind. Patients take comfort in knowing they can reach a doctor at any hour, even if they never need to.

While the magnet isn’t the answer to everything, even in this digital age of emails, texts, and smartphones, sometimes a reminder posted on the fridge next to photos of the grandchildren can be the best medicine.