Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Reducing Non-Emergency ED Use

The Washington State Health Care Authority is working with their State Hospital Association and physicians on a legislative mandate to reduce non-emergency use of hospital emergency departments as well as other over utilized emergency services.

The new plan to begin July 1, 2012, included in the Supplemental Budget passed April 11 by the Legislature calls for $31 million to be achieved in savings including both state and federal matching funds.

Hospitals and doctors will be encouraged to refer non-emergency patients to more efficient and effective levels of care and educate all clients about the appropriate use of emergency departments.

One of the objectives for hospitals across the state is to implement electronic health information exchanges to enable emergency department physicians and community primary care physicians to quickly share information on high emergency department patient users especially patients with drug or painkiller seeking behaviors.

Key features of the plan to start July 1 include:

·        Distributing information on the appropriate use of emergency department services
·        Working together to establish systems for referrals of non-emergencies to primary care providers within a 72 hour window
·        Establishing protocol for feedback reports so that the state and individual hospitals can track emergency department use and services received
·        Implementing guidelines around the state to identify narcotic-seeking behaviors and to share decision-making information about narcotics prescribing
·        Collaborating with the state, doctors, and hospitals on issues and concerns