How to Keep Emergency Rooms Focused on True Emergencies

From the Wall Street Journal:

Fortunately, there’s an alternative approach to addressing emergency-room overuse: focusing on supply-side strategies. These include providing telephone consultation services, more accessible primary-care services (including extended and urgent care hours), and integrated delivery of health care, which certain health systems offer. These measures can reduce the demand for emergency care while meeting the immediate needs of the population. Health plans are evolving to recognize this, and integrated delivery systems are reliably lower-cost due to this attention to patient-centered care delivery. For the truly nonemergent patient, the peace of mind alone from knowing that there is an accessible voice or consultant available may be enough. Early evidence suggests that telemedicine (including telephone consultations) can decrease costs by reducing ED visits.

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