By Stericycle Staff | Sep. 12, 2013

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Over the past decade, Emergency Department wait times have been steadily creeping upward, according to a new article from Becker’s Hospital Review.

As these times have increased by an average of six minutes, visits to the ED have also increased by a whopping 32 percent since 2003.

But that’s not all.

“ER visits are expected to increase in volume after the Patient Protection and Affordable Act goes into effect, but hospital inefficiencies in operations management seem to contribute to overcrowded ERs as well,” according to the article.

So what, if anything, can healthcare organizations do to combat this issue?

When it comes to overuse and overcrowding of the ED, healthcare organizations need to consider this point, first and foremost:

Are patients being routed to the proper point of care?

It’s essential for Emergency Departments to give patients a roadmap to the proper point of care in order to avoid ED overuse and crowding. Without this guidance, patients may fall back into the cycle of episodic care, with dangerous and costly results.

A few simple solutions to help patients get on the right track include following up after the ED visit and making sure the patient has a primary care physician, and instructing the patient on how to make the most of this relationship with a PCP. If the patient does not have a doctor, it’s key that the healthcare organization helps to connect the patient to a PCP, along with helping to facilitate — with both scheduling and appointment reminders — an introductory appointment and any subsequent screenings or check-ups.

 

Stericycle Staff

Author: Stericycle Staff

Stericycle has been delivering communication services to North American companies for over 25 years. Since 2011, we’ve been blogging about how to deliver best-in-class communications to patients and consumers – providing practical advice and current best practices for both healthcare and commercial organizations. We hope you enjoy and keep reading!
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