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Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

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Host: Scott LaMar

Radio Smart Talk: Local super utilizers

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Jun 5, 2013 8:55 AM
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Radio Smart Talk for Wednesday, June 5:

One medical professional said, "This is something we should have thought of and done years ago." 

There are many others across the country who would agree about programs designed to treat "super utilizer" patients.

Super utilizers are 5% of the patients who account for more than half of all healthcare costs.  

How can that happen?  Certainly lifestyle choices, especially bad ones, can contribute to poor health and multiple illnesses or conditions.  However, there are some patients who the system fails.

Miscommunication between medical providers can lead to repetitive or conflicting treatments.

Often, super utilizers don't have a family physician so they end up going to the hospital emergency room, which is more costly and there isn't as much follow up.

Dr. Jeffrey Brenner, a pioneer in the field who developed a super utilizer program in Camden, New Jersey, appeared on Radio Smart Talk last month to explain how it all got started.

On Wednesday's program, we'll learn about local super utilizer programs.

Guests will be Dr. Chris Echterling of WellSpan Health and Dr. Jeffrey Martin of Lancaster General Health.   

Wednesday's program is part of witf's Transforming Health initiative.

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Dr. Jeffrey Martin and Dr. Chris Echterling

Check out Dr. Chris Echterling‘s Transforming Health blog on the plight of the “super-utilizer”.

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  • Robert D Colgan img 2013-06-05 08:17

    What keeps getting missed is how much the paradigm of requiring healthcare will shift when ---IF--- America moves toward universal coverage for all citizens.
    The profits that are in place right now feed and nurture utilization of healthcare ....the medical business makes money from people using its services.
    But when that nurturance shifts away from seeking medical assistance toward maintenance of well-being-------------the shift that all other nations who shifted to universal coverage saw happen-----we begin to see medicine in an entirely different light.
    When doctors are financially rewarded, as they are in the UK, for keeping their patients well (early detection/sensing when something is starting/etc) the money itself becomes part of the wellness conversation, not the sick/disease converse.

    I can't stress this enough-----the current paradigm of healthcare in America, profit-driven/maintaining and promoting unwellness for profit, will be changed entirely when we remove the greedy middlemen insurers/pharmaceuticals/administrative executives.

    But it's 1/6 of the economy......there's the rub. They don't want to mess with the golden goose, even if it's shitting all over the place.

  • Suzanne Peper img 2013-06-05 08:57

    This is wonderful information regarding the superutilizers for hospital care. We at a local level can do more if we choose too and we at the Wound Center in Carlisle do this for a group of patients that have a lot of medical issues not just the non healing wound. It takes our whole department to get our patients on track. The patient is first and we recognize this. We develop a strong care plan to get patients with chronic non-healing wounds back to meeting their own daily goals so that they live a full life. Communication is key and if the patient knows that everyone is on the same team they will work harder. This is the way CRMC wants our practice to delivery service and we believe it to the core. This is a process that can be replicated at other health practices.