SNE-PTN initiative helps optometrists keep thousands of patients out of the Emergency Department

May 01, 2018
Jay Flanagan
Jay Flanagan, EMHL
Director of Quality Improvement and Transformation

It’s a common scenario: a patient injures his eye, self-refers to the Emergency Department, and receives treatment from a doctor who does not specialize in optometry. The result? Higher medical bills to address an ocular trauma that could have been successfully treated in an optometrist’s office.

The Southern New England Practice Transformation Network (SNE-PTN) led by the University of Massachusetts Medical School and UConn Health, is addressing this costly issue head on with its Emergency Department Avoidance initiative, and the results are astounding.

SNE-PTN-enrolled optometrists across the country have helped 22,765 patients avoid the Emergency Department, according to data reported from October 2017 through February 2018. That’s 4,445 patients per month who did not have to visit the Emergency Department as part of our efforts.

The Emergency Department Avoidance initiative gives practices the insight and tools needed to better support patients with urgent and emergency eye care needs. Optometrists are given tips to help increase the number of urgent eye care issues they can treat in the office, including the availability of same-day appointments, after-hours phone numbers and strong referral networks. 

Since the initiative rolled out in the fall of 2017, optometrists have been recording the number of patients treated at their offices that may have otherwise ended up in the Emergency Department. Practices submit this data each month into our SNE-PTN data portal. These powerful metrics highlight the value optometrists add as first-line ambulatory providers and as a source of direct referrals.

I’ll be presenting the initial outcomes of the Emergency Department Avoidance initiative outcomes at The Exchange, a Vision Source hosted conference that which attracts more than 4,000 optometrists. It takes place May 2-5 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California. For more information, visit The Exchange website.

SNE-PTN, a collaboration between UMass Medical School and UConn Health, is one of 29 practice transformation networks across the country chosen by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to be part of its Transforming Clinical Practices Initiative (TCPi). The network supports primary care and specialist clinicians to improve the health of their patients and financial health of their practices through technical assistance and shared learning opportunities. Participating clinicians will be better positioned for payment reform and to provide their patients with the right care at the right time in the right place.