Harris Health’s focus on reducing emergency department visits among “multivisit patients” has resulted in cost avoidance of nearly $4 million, according to a September 2023 article in ED Management.

The health system’s MVP program, operational at both its Ben Taub and LBJ Hospital, addresses the medical, social, and behavioral needs of multivisit patients (MVPs) to keep patients healthy and avoid return trips to the emergency department. For a patient to be considered an MVP, they must have visited the hospital more than 10 times in a year and experience medical, social, and behavioral barriers to navigating the health care system to a degree that the system itself becomes another barrier for the patient.

The program relies on a dedicated staff of community health workers who spend time with MVPs to identify issues they may be experiencing, such as housing instability or food insecurity, that negatively impact their health. The community health workers emphasize meeting patients at the bedside to get a detailed sense of what they are struggling with and how the program can best help.

“What we want is for the community health worker to engage the patient with transparent, consistent messaging, and also help them navigate so that their needs can be met elsewhere,” explains Gregory Buehler, MD, MBA, medical director of the MVP program. “There are not just medical needs, necessarily. In many cases, it is more social needs or behavioral and mental health needs.”

By going outside of traditional health care models to address broader health-related issues, the hospital is delivering real results. Since the program’s inception in the fall of 2020, the hospital has recorded 1,700 fewer emergency visits from MVPs, improving patients’ health and saving almost $4 million in costs.

“Harris Health is reimagining what community care looks like,” said Maureen Milligan, THOT president/CEO. “The MVP program is a fantastic example of the good health systems are doing to address the many factors that can contribute to emergency department use.”

Learn more about the work our member hospitals are doing here.