NJHA’s Two-Year Project Could Reduce Non-Emergency Hospital Visits
Emergency department (ED) care in New Jersey has increased by 27 percent from 2000 to 2010, and more than $400 million a year is spent on avoidable ED visits, according to a press release from the New Jersey Hospital Association (NJHA).
The “Community Partnership for ED Express Care and Case Management,” a two-and-a-half-year demonstration project led by NJHA’s Health Research and Educational Trust, the state Department of Human Services, and the New Jersey Primary Care Association, took a closer look at the issue of non-emergency cases turning up in the state’s EDs. The investigation aimed to reduce unnecessary costs and reallocate critical ED time.
This project, supported by a $4.8 million grant from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, closely followed two hospital emergency departments and tested interventions to help patients receive primary care services in a more appropriate and less expensive setting. The investigation revealed more than 10,000 visits over a two-year period for situations that were not emergencies. Eighty-nine percent of the non-emergency visits were from patients without insurance or Medicaid; 31 percent of patients said they went to the ED because their doctor was not available at the time.
Patient care is the main objective of this research, according to NJHA President and CEO Betsy Ryan. “This project is all about patients—making sure they get the right care in the right setting,” she stated. “But this is one of those scenarios in which doing the right thing for the patient also can produce savings in healthcare costs. It’s a win-win.”
If hospitals can figure out a way to get patients to the proper healthcare facility, they may see increased revenues while benefiting the greater good of patients.
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