Strategies to Reduce Nonurgent Emergency Department Use: Experience of a Northern Virginia Employer Group.
ABSTRACT BACKGROUND:: This administrative claims analysis evaluated the impact of a health plan-sponsored Emergency Room Utilization Management Initiative (ERUMI), which combined increased patient copays for ED visits with educational outreach to reduce inappropriate ED use and encourage use of retail health clinics (RHCs) and other alternative treatment sites among a commercially insured population. METHODS:: Emergency department (ED) utilization rates for select acute but nonurgent conditions that could be treated appropriately in an RHC were compared for members of an employer group with (intervention group) and without (comparators) ERUMI. Utilization was compared for baseline period (January-June 2009) and ERUMI implementation period (January-June 2010). RESULTS:: A total of 56,896 members (14,224 intervention, 42,672 matched comparators) were included. ED utilization for conditions that could be treated appropriately by RHCs decreased by 10.39 visits/1000 members in the intervention group versus 6.29 visits in comparators. RHC visits rose for both the groups, with a greater increase in the intervention group (22.61 visits/1000 members, P<0.001) versus comparison (1.64/1000, P=0.064). After ERUMI implementation, intervention group members were nearly 5 times more likely than comparators to choose RHCs over ED for nonurgent care. CONCLUSIONS:: The health plan-sponsored ERUMI program, consisting of both financial and educational components, decreased nonurgent ED utilization while increasing the use of alternative treatment sites.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Use of the emergency department for nonemergency care is frequent and costly. We studied the effect of a copayment on emergency department use in a group-model health maintenance organization (HMO). We examined the use of the emergency department in 1992 and 1993 by 30,276 subjects who ranged in age from 1 to 63 years at the start of the study and belonged to the Kaiser Permanente HMO in northern California. We assessed their use of various HMO services and their clinical outcomes before and after the introduction of a copayment of $25 to $35 for using the emergency department. This copayment group was compared with two randomly selected control groups not affected by the copayment. One control group, with 60,408 members, was matched for age, sex, and area of residence to the copayment group. The second, with 37,539 members, was matched for these factors and also for the type of employer. After adjustment for age, sex, socioeconomic status, and use of the emergency department in 1992, the decline in the number of visits in 1993 was 14.6 percentage points greater in the copayment group than in either control group (P<0.001 for each comparison). Visits for urgent care did not increase among subjects in any stratum defined by age and sex, and neither did the number of outpatient visits by adults and children. The decline in emergency visits for presenting conditions classified as "always an emergency" was small and not significant. For conditions classified as "often an emergency". "sometimes not an emergency", or "often not an emergency", the declines in the use of the emergency department were larger and statistically significant, and they increased with decreasing severity of the presenting condition. Although our ability to detect any adverse effects of the copayment was limited, there was no suggestion of excess adverse events in the copayment group, such as increases in mortality or in the number of potentially avoidable hospitalizations. Among members of an HMO, the introduction of a small copayment for the use of the emergency department was associated with a decline of about 15 percent in the use of that department, mostly among patients with conditions considered likely not to present an emergency.New England Journal of Medicine 03/1996; 334(10):635-41. DOI:10.1056/NEJM199603073341006 · 54.42 Impact Factor
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: The goal was to describe the use of the medical emergency department as a source of non-urgent medical care in order to assess unmet health care needs among its users. The specific objectives were thus to assess the proportion of emergency department visits for non-urgent medical care and to describe those who used the department for this reason. A cross sectional study was performed at the emergency department in two hospitals (around 12,000 visits per year each). Subjects were interviewed before and after the visit using a standardised questionnaire. The medical emergency department of two university hospitals, one in Paris and one in Besançon (France). Each patient aged 15 and more attending the emergency department for a visit during 40 randomly selected periods of 12 hours was included. A definition of urgent care was adopted before the beginning of the study. Four expert judgments were then used for each case to determine whether the reason for the visit was urgent or not. Altogether 594 patients in the Paris emergency department and 614 in the Besançon one were included. In Besançon, the patients were older, a general practitioner was more often cited as the regular source of care, and the percentage of subsequent hospital admission was higher than in Paris (71% versus 34%). The non-urgent visits were estimated to account for 35% and 29% of the visits in Paris and Besançon respectively. Patients using the emergency department for a non-urgent visit were younger than other patients. More of them were unemployed, homeless, born outside of France, and without health insurance. Non-urgent use of the emergency department was observed in about one third of the visits. Groups using the department for primary care and/or non-urgent care were mostly young and socially fragile, with no regular source of health care. Their poor health condition suggests that there is a need for a structure providing primary care both inside and outside 'normal' working hours.Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health 09/1996; 50(4):456-62. DOI:10.1136/jech.50.4.456 · 3.29 Impact Factor
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Nonurgent (NU) emergency department (ED) use is at the forefront of medico-political agendas, and diversion of NU patients has been entertained as a management strategy. Before policy changes are implemented, this population should be better understood with respect to their characteristics and reasons for not presenting to primary care providers (PCPs) instead of EDs. This study compares NU with urgent and semiurgent (USU) patients and describes the NU patients' reasons for not seeking care with a PCP before presenting to the ED. This was a secondary analysis from a cross-sectional study with sequential sampling in the EDs of five Quebec tertiary care hospitals (October 19, 1999, to May 26, 2000). Data on medical history, social support, awareness and utilization of health care, ED visits, referrals, activities of daily living, and sociodemographics were obtained. The NU group included patients with triage code 5 and the USU group included patients with triage codes 2, 3, and 4 using the Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale. Patient characteristics were structured into the Andersen behavioral model for health care utilization. Of 2,348 patients approached, 1,783 patients (77%) were eligible and agreed to participate. NU patients (n = 454) were younger than USU patients (n = 1,329) (mean age, 43 [SD +/- 18.1] vs. 49 [SD +/- 20.1] years). Patients in the NU group had better health (number of prior conditions, 3.1 vs. 3.9), were less likely to arrive by ambulance (5% vs. 22%), and were less often admitted from the ED (4% vs. 24%). While 70% of NU compared with 75% of USU patients were followed up by a PCP, only 22% of NU and 27% of USU patients sought PCP care before presenting to the ED. The reasons given by NU patients for not seeking PCP care were accessibility (32%), perception of need (22%), referral/follow-up to the ED (20%), familiarity with the ED (11%), trust of the ED (7%), and no reason (7%). NU ED patients are different from USU patients and have multiple reasons for not seeking primary care before going to the ED. This may help explain why various diversion strategies have been unsuccessful and indicate that a multifaceted approach may be better suited to this group of patients. The design of new interventions, however, will benefit from further research that clarifies the impact of NU patients on the health care system.Academic Emergency Medicine 01/2005; 11(12):1302-10. DOI:10.1197/j.aem.2004.08.032 · 2.20 Impact Factor