Novel approach gets 'Frequent Fliers' out of Oregon ER

Emergency Rooms are good for emergencies. But many people use them as their doctor's office.

These so-called "frequent fliers" often visit ERs for issues that could more easily — and inexpensively — be treated in a physician's office. The result is longer waits, higher costs and less satisfied patients.

Now Oregon is testing a program, Health Share, to see if they can change that.

Health Share of Oregon emerged from a group of private and public organizations addressing a single, complicated question: Can we together improve the quality of care and the care experience of Oregon Health Plan members, and do it for less money?

Early results are anecdotal, but Oregon has five years and almost $2 billion of federal backing to prove it can.

And, along the way, I expect they will have healthier and more satisfied patients.

Listen to an NPR piece jointly reported by NPR, Oregon Public Broadcasting and Kaiser Health News.