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Spectrum Health Targets ED Frequent Fliers for Primary Care

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, January 17, 2012

Waller says the patients are not chastised nor forced to agree to treatment plans dictated by the medical staff. "We don't have them sign any contracts and that is the big thing," he says. "If you have someone with true pain or who has a true neurobiological addiction who is not being treated they are not going to adhere to some contract because they don't see risk and benefit the same way we do."

The program is expected to grow as more eligible patients learn about it and understand that it's not a trick. 

"They're scared. They think it is a bust," Waller says. "When they realize we are trying to get them some help they come back. It's a matter of getting them to trust us. Now we have a core group of patients in the neighborhood saying 'they are here to help you out.'"

As many as 40% of the center's patients are neurobiologically addicted to some substance. Waller says the center has successfully developed a treatment regimen that couples medication with behavioral therapy and modification. "More than 90% have stayed clean since they started treatment here," he says. 

The net savings of $300,000 in six weeks and the drop in ED use has attracted the attention of payers, including commercial insurers with Medicaid plans.

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4 comments on "Spectrum Health Targets ED Frequent Fliers for Primary Care"


Deb McMaster (8/31/2012 at 8:09 PM)
This shouldn't be considered a one-size fits all approach. Therefore, assumptions should NOT be made about individuals that are taking prescription pain medications.

Ryan Nastaj (2/9/2012 at 1:17 AM)
Those os you who have posted, and there are currently two ahead of me, have not read the whole story behind this movement, This Dr. is a life saver, trust me when i tell you this, becuase i happen to be a patient there at the Integrative Medicine Group, the article left out the following, Dr. Waller is a Pain Medidcine Specialist, and addiction specialist and Emergency Room Doc also. The place doesnt only treat addictted patients to narcotics etc..it serves as a place to start then they transfer you to a regular primary doctor etc..So what the article said was he is an addiction specialist, thats is true but also treats Chronic pain and they do have other staff from network 180 which is a community or a place for the community to go for mental health , addiction stuff etc..when you go in you meet with several different people, from net 180 , dr. waller, a nurse, etc.. and they target your issues form various aspects. So thisis not just a place for addicts...just thought id let you know the truth

Cathy Martin (1/25/2012 at 9:23 AM)
I applaud Spectrum's concept. I think it will provide a very proficient way to ID patient's that will benefit from the program and give a very holistic approach to their care. However, I would caution that a program of 6 weeks is still in a honeymoon phase. I am a very "the glass is half full" person, but I don't belief that in 6 months to a year you will be seeing a sober rate as stated -"More than 90% have stayed clean since they started treatment here," he says. I would be interested in an update on the program's progress at 6 months and one year. I am hoping that Spectrum will share their program as a model for others and have great success with it as well.