Are ERs becoming the New Primary Clinic?

ERs are the gateway to a critical and indispensable component of the U.S. health care system which is why overuse has become a national concern and worry amongst hospitals, policy makers and healthcare providers. While their traditional mission is to provide trauma and emergency services for people in imminent danger of losing their life or suffering permanent damage to their health, the role of emergency departments has evolved over the past several decades. An increasing number of people are using hospital emergency departments for non-urgent care and for conditions that could have been treated in a primary care setting.

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Why do patients seek care in the emergency department as compared to other care settings? Here are five causes of emergency department overuse:

  •  Patients have limited access to timely primary care services.
  •  The emergency department provides convenient after-hours and weekend care.
  •  The emergency department offers patients immediate reassurance about their medical conditions.
  •  Primary care providers refer patients to the emergency department.
  •  Hospitals have financial and legal obligations to treat emergency department patients.

The first four causes all relate to shortcomings in the primary care system. The rise in patient demand, fueled by an aging population and the growing burden of chronic disease, is outpacing the supply of primary care providers, which is compromising the system’s ability to deliver quality primary care services to all patients. Thus, the emergency department has increasingly filled that gap.Our providers are extremely knowledgeable in empowering patients to avoid fee-for-service overutilization. Contact us today! Myron add my contact information.