Implementation of an Emergency Department Screening and Care Management Referral Process for Patients With Sickle Cell Disease

Prof Case Manag. Sep/Oct 2019;24(5):240-248. doi: 10.1097/NCM.0000000000000356.


Purpose of study: The purpose of the project was to describe the implementation and evaluation of a care management referral program from emergency departments (EDs) to care management services for patients with sickle cell disease (SCD).

Primary practice setting: Patients were referred to Community Care of North Carolina (CCNC), which is a private-public collaboration providing care management services and served as a referral hub for the program. Patients received follow-up from either CCNC or the North Carolina Sickle Cell Syndrome Program.

Methodology and sample: A multidisciplinary, multiorganizational group streamlined the referral process for patients with SCD who have ongoing care needs by linking patients from the ED to care management services. The article presents a review of program implementation and evaluation over a 3½-year period. The target population were patients who had a diagnosis of SCD and presented to the ED for treatment. Emergency department staff used a modified version of the Emergency Department Sickle Cell Needs Assessment of Needs and Strengths tool to screen for social behavioral health needs in areas such as emotional, financial, pain management, and resources. All forms were faxed to a central number at CCNC for follow-up care management services. Community Care of North Carolina then linked the patient with the appropriate agency and staff for follow-up.

Results: More than 900 referrals were received in 3½ years. Pain was the most common reason for referral. An increase in care management intensity was observed over time. All levels of care management intensity saw an increase in the number of patients.

Implications for case management: Care management occurred across organizations after careful planning among stakeholders. The interagency cooperation permitted the development of a streamlined process. In particular, the creation of a single point for referral was an important component to allow for population-level monitoring and ease of making referrals. Patients with ongoing care needs were identified and there was an increase in the intensity of outpatient care management services delivered.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / diagnosis*
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / therapy*
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Continuing
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / standards*
  • Female
  • Health Personnel / education*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / standards*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Care Management / standards*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Referral and Consultation / standards*