Nonbiased parties outside of the urgent care arena are picking up on the idea that many people who visit the emergency room don’t really need to be there—and there are more data demonstrating that all the time. Most recently, the International Journal for Quality in Health Care published research stating that 3.3% of ED visits are “avoidable” altogether. The data reflect more than 424 million ED visits by patients between 18 and 64 years of age, from 2005 to 2011. From an urgent care perspective, it’s likely the real percentage could be much higher, as the researchers’ definition of avoidable did not include visits for which “diagnostic or screening services, procedures, and medications” were required. Clearly, most urgent care centers are well equipped and staffed to handle that level of acuity, meaning such visits to the ED should also be considered avoidable. Further, the authors concluded that many ED visits are for complaints the ED is not equipped for, anyway (eg, alcohol abuse or mental health issues). The article also identified Anthem as one private payer that is trying to encourage its members to seek care in less costly settings—specifying urgent care as one of them—when appropriate.
More Data Quantify ED Visits That Could Be Avoided