(Batesville, Ark.) — White River Health System (WRHS) received a $150,000 grant from the Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas. This grant provides funding for the WRHS Health Coach and Health Navigator Programs, which are a part of the WRHS Community Care Network.
Health Coaches are Lyon College pre-health professional students and Health Navigator’s are University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville (UACCB) nursing students who assist patients in understanding their health status. Health Coaches and Navigator’s discuss symptoms and problems patients should report to their provider, as well as, help ensure patients understand and take medications properly. The Health Coaches have a long term commitment and see patients weekly for a 12 week period. The Navigator’s visit patients one time and call weekly for only one month. It is a quick 30 day focus, in order to educate patients well enough to avoid a 30 day readmission. The program also connects patients with outpatient care and community resources.
“The Health Coach program is a partnership between Lyon College, UACCB, and White River Health System,” said Chris Steel, M.D., Director of Anesthesia, and Medical Director of the WRHS Community Care Network. “It was the first program in the state of Arkansas to give undergraduate students the opportunity to gain college credit while learning from the healthcare administrators and clinicians. It affords students hands-on experience while helping patients at high-risk for unintended readmission. Patients served by our health coaches have drastically decreased their need to be re-admitted to the hospital or be seen in the ER. As a result, patients are better able to manage their condition. The program has also saved over $2M in medical costs for our healthcare system.”
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, in 2009, 10% of patients accounted for 70% of healthcare expenditures. Elderly patients with chronic medical conditions who do not have a strong support system are most at risk. This program helps reduce unintended readmission and the medical costs associated with readmissions. The contribution by Blue & You Foundation to the Health Coach program will provide WRHS the opportunity to continue to provide this service to the patients in the area.
“WRHS Health Coaches and Health Navigators have helped 145 patients in just the first six months of this year,” said Carla Langston, Director of Community Care Network. “These students ensure that patients have proper follow-up, connect to community resources, and have what they need at home to properly manage their health. As a result, patients become more confident and are more successful, which in turn, helps them remain as independent as possible and avoid costly unintended readmissions and ER visits.”
WRHS is a not-for-profit healthcare system serving residents throughout North Central Arkansas. The system includes hospitals, outpatient facilities, primary care and specialty physician office practices, and senior life centers. WRHS is a member of the Premier Alliance, the American Hospital Association, and the Arkansas Hospital Association and licensed by the Arkansas Department of Health.
The Blue & You Foundation is a recognized leader in improving the health of all Arkansans, through philanthropic giving and collaborative partnerships. The Blue & You Foundation is part of the Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s heritage of caring and commitment to the better health of Arkansans.