Attention ACOs: to lower ED utilization, educate patients

A recent study published in the journal Academic Emergency Medicine performed a meta-analysis of 39 studies related to reducing ED use. The interventions included in the studies were grouped into the following categories:

  • Patient education
  • Creation of additional non-ED capacity
  • Managed care
  • Pre-hospital diversion
  • Patient financial incentives



Helping Patients Help Themselves

Two of the studies that focused on educating patients on medical conditions showed reductions in ED use ranging from 21% to 80%. This compares to two studies on the impact of prehospital diversion of low-acuity patients, which showed reductions of just 3% to 7%. The study authors noted that

"...some of the interventions, especially those that added non-ED capacity, had the effect of reducing ED use, but increasing overall healthcare consumption. As new programs are rolled out to discourage people from going to EDs, we need to study them carefully to ensure they are safe and look at how they impact big picture costs."


Full study: (PDF)