ERs Reluctant Primary Care Providers for 28 Percent of Americans

Monday, September 13th, 2010
This post was written by Patricia Donovan

The hospital ER is the de facto primary care provider for 28 percent of Americans seeking acute care, according to a study published in this month’s Health Affairs. Patient-centered medical homes and accountable care organizations — reforms featured prominently in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — are intended to eventually improve access to acute care. In the meantime, the healthcare industry is taking a three-pronged approach to reduce avoidable ER visits, according to new market research featured in this week’s Healthcare Business Weekly Update.

For example, Kaiser Permanente in Colorado took a very hard look at its ED utilization across its population and found that avoidable and preventable ED visits accounted for upward of 20 percent of its approximately 72,000 ED visits per year. In a recent webinar on redirecting patients to more cost-effective care settings, Sara Gray, senior manager of emergency services at Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Colorado, shared more than two dozen population-specific strategies Kaiser is using to maximize the time, energy and resources expended by ER staff.

In response to our July 2010 e-survey, 90 healthcare companies told us how they are reducing avoidable ER use and the impact their efforts are having on emergency department utilization. Get a free summary of the results here.

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