Improving Health Care for Inmates to Decrease Recidivism

The L.A. County Department of Health Services is aiming to improve quality of care for the 18,000 inmates held in the county’s vast jail system. The Inmate Reception Center (IRC) is the first point of contact for people entering the system and, on any given weekday, more than 400 newly arrived inmates, many of whom are in need of medical care, are processed there. DHS enlisted FUSE executive fellow Tom Pyun to help improve patient flow in the men’s IRC.

Tom conducted a comprehensive assessment that led to the rollout of several pilot projects aimed at improving patient flow and reducing traffic within the IRC. One pilot included launching a new screening tool to improve the triage process of men entering the jail system, as well as re-engineering the flow to improve processing times. Tom also collaborated on the launch of a data-capturing group that is investigating how electronic medical records can inform process improvement and decision-making at the executive level. These initiatives contributed to the adoption of a more patient-centered approach within the L.A. County jail system, one that better addresses the diverse health needs of the inmate population.