Call Us First: A US Family Health Plan Emergency Care Pilot Program

Deciding where to go for the treatment of a medical condition is not always easy. Thankfully, US Family Health Plan member organization, Pacific Medical Centers (PacMed), has helped remove the guesswork from members’ emergency care needs.

PacMed, which serves US Family Health Plan members in the Puget Sound area of Washington State, recently introduced a pilot program – “Call Us First” – to encourage members to call an after-hours medical care hotline to consult with a doctor before visiting the emergency department. Through this program, PacMed educates both patients and providers about the benefits of seeking medical care with a primary care physician versus relying solely on the emergency department.

Call Us First launched at the Federal Way and Puyallup, Washington, PacMed clinics where utilization rates among members under age 65 were identified as higher than average. US Family Health Plan members in the area received information packets at home and following appointments to educate them about the program. Participating clinics set aside early morning appointments for members who called overnight so they could receive timely care for health conditions that did not require an emergency room visit.

Working with local clinics, PacMed set a goal of reducing emergency department utilization rates by 5% at each clinic for the target population. PacMed uses a program called EDIE (Emergency Department Information Exchange) to let clinics know how they are doing by receiving real-time updates when a member uses the emergency department and relaying that information back to the clinics.

With the program already receiving a positive response – emergency department use is down, and members are using the hotline – PacMed is planning to roll out the Call Us First program to all of its clinics in Washington state this year.

“Call Us First is an excellent way to improve patient access to care while reducing the strain on our emergency departments. This program is a prime example of the US Family Health Plan’s population-health approach, which is effective at keeping our members out of the emergency department and healthy by providing the tools they need to take greater control of their healthcare,” says Moung Finh, Executive Director, US Family Health Plan at PacMed.

US Family Health Plan members are encouraged and empowered to invest in their own health through wellness initiatives – an approach that leads to fewer hospitalizations and emergency department visits. When they do need medical attention, US Family Health Plan members enjoy an integrated care network of nearly 64,000 providers across the country who understand their military background and provide top care satisfaction.

To learn more about the US Family Health Plan, explore the rest of our website.