The Saskatoon Health Region (SHR) is looking to the past in an effort to cut emergency room costs.
A report presented to the region in November is making the case for bringing back house calls.
Speaking Tuesday morning with Gormley, SHR Board president Mike Stensrud noted it costs about $800 each time someone visits the ER, and more than 80 per cent of people aren’t admitted.
Of the people who are admitted to hospital, about a third live with chronic conditions, according to Stensrud. He said many of these cases are episodic in nature and could be prevented.
With that in mind, he said the SHR is setting up a pilot program where chronically ill patients will have a team of healthcare workers assigned to them, who will provide care in the patient’s home wherever possible.
“We will try to keep those folks healthy, rather than continue to slide downhill then be into hospital and then out, and then they’re largely on their own and it happens over and over and over,” Stensrud said.
Along with getting to patients in their homes, Stensrud noted the health region wants to look at creating new entry points into the healthcare system, either online or in new facilities. He said pilot projects in this area will look at ways to tailor care to individual geographical locations.
Stensrud cited the difference between the area around Louise Street, where several retirement residences serve an older population, and 22nd Street where many more families with young children live.
He said the idea would be to find ways to best address the unique health issues that arise in those types of areas.
“To try to take care of people in their homes, or through new doors that are more appropriate for the needs of that particular patient,” he said.
Stensrud expects the health region will have to spend some money at the outset to set up the pilot projects and perfect new service models. He said the reward will come in reduced healthcare costs over the long run.
“The dream I think, is that eventually ER and hospital returns back to what it was designed to be,” he said.