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Statewide rural health initiative targets chronic diseases to lower health costs
e-Reports, May 19, 2014
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This fall, many rural Indiana patients across the state will receive additional help in managing their chronic diseases, thanks to a new program developed by the Indiana Rural Health Association (IRHA).

The initiative’s goal is to lower health care costs by empowering physicians and hospitals to better help patients with diabetes and congestive heart failure through health care coaches. Both diseases are the most prevalent and costly among adults in rural Indiana, according to the IRHA.

This month, the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health awarded the IRHA a three-year grant totaling $897,200. The IRHA also will contribute $144,900 toward training. The program is expected to begin in September.

Other goals of the program include:

  • Lower emergency department use by patients
  • Wellness care
  • Improved quality measures for hospitals and physicians

To achieve these objectives, the coaches will use electronic patient monitoring, such as texting, phone calls or emails.

Experiencing success
Through their accountable care organization, officials at Logansport Memorial Hospital already have health and wellness teams working with local employers to improve health outcomes in the community. Their primary care physicians have been working with a recently hired care coordinator.

“We are getting away from reactive to proactive medicine,” said Crystal Zinsmeister, R.N., BSN, director of Care Coordination. “We have the claims data to identify the top 10 percent of at-risk patients. We want to reach out to patients and help them before they are admitted to the hospital for chronic disease-related issues.”

Zinsmeister explained that one care coordinator can manage 1,200 patients. She noted the hospital has had some successes.

Find out more about Zinsmeister’s program by calling her at (574) 739-1228.

To see if your hospital is part of the IRHA, visit here.

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