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ER is for emergencies

Partners

ER is for Emergencies is a partnership between the Health Care Authority, the Washington State Hospital Association, the Washington State Medical Association, and the Washington Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians.

ER overuse

Some of the main issues leading to emergency department overuse include chronic medical conditions, substance abuse issues and lack of primary care access. Our strategies include patient education, improving access to primary care and encouraging physician participation in the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program, which tracks data on patients who are prescribed controlled substances.

Best practices

In July 2011, hospitals throughout Washington adopted seven “best practices” to reduce unnecessary emergency department visits. The Health Care Authority, Washington State Hospital Association, Washington State Medical Association, and the Washington Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians are working to help them accomplish these goals.

Best practice Goal
Electronic Health Information Exchange patient information among emergency departments to increase care coordination and reduce duplication.
Patient education Help patients understand and use appropriate settings for their health care services.
Patient Review & Coordination (PRC) Information Ensure hospitals know when they are treating a PRC patient and increase coordination between emergency departments and PRC patients’ primary care provider.
PRC client care plan Assist PRC clients with their care plans.
Narcotic guidelines Prevent inappropriate or excessive prescribing of narcotics.
Prescription monitoring Ensure coordination of prescription drug prescribing practices in order to improve patient care and stop prescription drug misuse.
Utilization feedback reports regarding hospital practices Review hospital-specific reports addressing emergency
department utilization and prescribing. Ensure interventions are working effectively

Progress report

We have seen significant success with our efforts to tackle emergency room overuse. The most recent report, for fiscal year 2013, showed:

  • The rate of emergency department visits declined by 9.9%.
  • The rate of “frequent visitors” (five or more visits annually) dropped by 10.7%.
  • The rate of visits resulting in a scheduled drug prescription fell by 24%.
  • The rate of visits with a low-acuity (less serious) diagnosis decreased by 14.2%.
  • A savings of $33.6 million in Apple Health (Medicaid) fee-for-service emergency care costs.