In the News
How did one state successfully improve health care access for its residents, most of whom are uninsured and live in rural areas with few local providers and miles from a health care facility? An analysis of Nurse Advice New Mexico (NANM), presented at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Emergency Preparedness Summit in Atlanta in April, outlined the program's successful innovations.
According to the presentation by nurse Connie Fiorenzio, who is NANM's program director and has a background in public health nursing, linguistic and cultural barriers also challenge care access for the state's underserved minorities, who constitute about half of New Mexico's population. From its inception in 2006, the advice line has relied on nurses familiar with the state's demographics and resources to guide patients, insured and uninsured alike, through the health care system. NANM now employs 46 RNs, half of whom work from their homes.
The telephone advice line was planned as a single point of access to health care information and coordinates with local and state public health and emergency management services. It also now has an online presence. A primary goal was to bring Medicaid dollars being spent on out-of-state vendors of nurse advice lines back into the state, a feat that took the cooperation of two large New Mexico managed care partners.
During its first year alone, NAMN diverted 61% of those who might have visited an ED unnecessarily to more appropriate care, and 29% of callers were given home or self-care advice, all while achieving a 98% caller satisfaction rate. Currently, 66% of the time, nurses are able to help patients avoid ED visits when appropriate care can be found at a lower cost, saving the state's health care systems more than $5 million per year. Details on how the model was developed, the partnerships involved, and its additional achievements are available at http://bit.ly/1HM2tVn.—Gail M. Pfeifer, MA, RN, news director