Hospitals: Strategies for easing the ED crunch

June 6, 2008

Hospitals known as "safety net" facilities for the poor and uninsured are working with these patients in an attempt to prevent them from clogging busy EDs with their nonurgent needs, finds a new study from the Center for Studying Health System Change.

Hospitals known as "safety net" facilities for the poor and uninsured are working with these patients in an attempt to prevent them from clogging busy EDs with their nonurgent needs, finds a new study from the Center for Studying Health System Change, a nonpartisan research organization in Washington, DC. Efforts include having dedicated ED staff work with patients to establish a "medical home" in their community, and strongly encouraging the use of outpatient clinics and community health centers.

Doctors in private practice are part of the solution, too: "Strategies that help direct patients with nonurgent conditions to other settings could increase access, enhance quality, and contain costs if there are community providers willing and able to treat more low-income people," says study co-author, Laurie E. Felland.