University of Chicago’s Urban Health Initiative has some success, has room for improvement

The University of Chicago’s Urban Health Initiative was launched in 2005 as a way to educate patients on the best use of the emergency room.  According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, the program has since provided over 5,600 patients access to a medical home, which is designed to get patients higher-quality care, including specialized services in a doctor's office or outpatient clinic as opposed to a hospital.

The program has had some success - the number of appointments made at clinics has increased nearly 40 percent. The initiative focuses on treating chronic conditions early to improve patient’s health, which could also save the health care system tens of billions of dollars.

The initiative still has room to improve, as 39 percent of patients referred did not show up for appointments.

(Sources: The Chicago Tribune, http://www.chicagotribune.com, July 29, 2010, The Advisory Board Daily Briefing, http://advisory.com, August 2, 2010)