According to a recent survey by the American College of Emergency Physicians, 86 percent of clinicians expect emergency department (ED) visits to increase in the next three years. Still, to decrease non-emergency ED use, some facilities are implementing new programs, as reported by FierceHealthcare.
With a $200 thousand first-year grant from the Maryland Community Health Resources Commission, one program aims at reducing ED use among patients with non-urgent or chronic conditions. Partnering organizations—Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and non-profit HealthCare Access Maryland—set out to find patients who visited an ED four or more times for primary or specialty care during a four-month period. Target individuals are given information on community resources that could help keep them from needing to visit the hospital. They are also given a personalized care plan and a 90-day window to resolve certain lifestyle and health problems, such as substance abuse or lack of transportation.
Another program is taking place in two South Georgia hospitals—Tift Regional Medical Center in Tifton and Cook Medical Center in Adel.
“No one will be refused treatment,” said Chris Efaw, Tift Regional Medical Center’s vice president of outreach and development, to local NBC news affiliate WALB. “But the setting for their care may be in a different location because we are really designed to see the more emergent, more dramatic cases.”
As part of the program, patients who visit the ED for non-emergency conditions are then referred to local clinics to help physicians treat more serious patients in a timelier manner. According to an announcement made by WALB, non-emergency patients who decide to stay and be treated in the ED have to pay $200 for services and will be billed for any services not covered by their insurance.