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ER scheduling software is an effective tool to meet todays rise in emergency room visits

Posted on 5/14/2014 by Elizabeth in category: scheduling software articles
Affordable Care Act supporters believed the new access to health insurance would significantly reduce the number of emergency room visits because people would now have access to primary care physicians. Now that the first enrollment period has ended, the full impact of millions of newly insured Americans waits to be seen. However, an experiment published in January 2014 in the journal Science doesn’t seem to correspond with the assumptions of lawmakers.

The Oregon Experiment

The 2008 Health Insurance Experiment in Oregon revealed surprising information about emergency room visits and the newly insured. The state of Oregon allowed for a limited expansion of its Medicaid program to 25,000 low-income adults via lottery. These adults were already on a waiting list to receive Medicaid coverage.

The study followed their emergency department use over a period of 18 months after the lottery. They discovered that those with Medicaid coverage utilized emergency departments of state hospitals 40% more often than people in the control group. The increased visits were across the board including the treatment of conditions that are readily treatable by primary care physicians.

A Little Perspective

The New York Times points out that the Oregon experiment may have been a little too short to provide definitive data. The state of Massachusetts, which has had similar health insurance requirements since 2006 found that there was an eight percent decrease in emergency department use though that decrease took several years to occur.

Theories abound about the reasons why reliance upon emergency medicine increases among the newly insured. Any of the following reasons may contribute to the longer wait times in emergency rooms.
  • Unable to make physician visit copayments.
  • Uneducated about benefits of primary physician visits over emergency room visits.
  • Have not yet found a primary physician.
  • No appointments available with primary physician.
  • Injuries or accidents occur after regular physicians’ hours
  • Can’t take time off work to see primary physician.

The whys and wherefores aren’t nearly as important as how today’s already overburdened emergency centers are going to deal with the new influx of traffic seven to eight million newly insured Americans are going to bring to emergency rooms.

Solving the Rise in Emergency Room Visits Problem

There are many things emergency departments can do to help mitigate the rising number of ER visits. These are just a few examples your emergency department may want to consider.

Emergency medicine scheduling software, also known as ER scheduling software, allows scheduling admistrators to provide a more efficient tool to schedule ER physicians.

Electronic posting of current wait time allows people to check online and determine if the emergency department is a wise choice now or if it might be better to wait or visit another ER depending on the nature of their emergencies.

Update the triage process and consider including non-emergency clinics in the ER for those who have illnesses and issues that are not medical emergencies.

Small changes, such as adopting shift scheduling software, can make a huge difference in the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of emergency medicine in hospitals across the country. While these are only a few examples, they provide powerful results for meeting the rising demand on today’s emergency medical services.

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