How to Improve ER Utilization

October 30, 2021

What is ER Utilization? 

ER utilization or emergency department utilization (EDU) is an assessment of the actual rate of ER department usage or predicted usage rate. ERs are only meant to be utilized for emergent services, but sometimes people come in for treatment that is considered non-emergent. While emergency rooms will treat patients with non-emergent conditions, patients will pay emergency room prices when they receive such services. 

ER utilization measurement is used to cut down on inappropriate ER usage. How can health care systems reduce the number of non-emergent patients to maximize the facilities’ usage for those deemed emergent? 

ER utilization  is also evaluated by observing signs of poor management, inadequate access to care or poor choices made by patients. Together, these factors put an undue strain on the entire health care system. When that burden is lifted, patients have an opportunity to receive suitable treatment options and a level of quality care that cannot be given in overrun and poorly operated emergency departments. 

Why Is ER Utilization Important? 

HealthCatalyst reported, “Overcrowding in the emergency department has been associated with increased inpatient mortality, increased length of stay (LOS) and increased costs for admitted patients. Emergency Department wait times and “left without being seen” (LWBS) rates measuring the number of patients who presented to the Emergency Department but left before receiving a medical evaluation are two indicators of overcrowding.”  

Having an efficient and coordinated emergency room means better service and treatment optimization for patients with better outcomes. Emergency departments are best utilized for emergent conditions rather than non-emergent conditions. Understanding this delicate balance of appropriate care and optimal utilization is important when recording and evaluating statistical data on the flow of visitors and predicted visitors.  

Measurement means hospitals can better serve their patients, have better outcomes and can cut down on the overall monetary burden placed upon the entire health care system by high-intensity care. By looking at ER utilization data, health care systems can assess and reassess processes and procedures to better maximize the performance of their emergency departments.  

How to Improve ER Utilization 

One of the most prominent reasons for inappropriate ER utilization is patients not knowing what level of care they need. Studies show that when patients don’t know if their condition requires emergency or urgent care services, they will most often choose the higher level of care. Coupled with the fact that the majority of healthcare systems don’t offer urgent care options and only have emergency options, this results in poor ER utilization rates and an undue burden on hospital systems and patients.  

Intuitive Health combines emergency room and urgent care under one roof. Patients only pay for the actual services needed. This takes the level of care guesswork out of the patient’s hands. When a patient is assessed, an ER-trained staff member designates the patient as an urgent care patient or an emergency room patient. Consumers are part of the Intuitive Health process every step of the way and are made aware of the level of treatment recommended before treatment begins. Patients requiring care at the urgent care level will never be billed or categorized as ER patients and vice versa. 

This combined model reduces ER overutilization and, in turn, reduces ER wait times. It provides health care options for individuals who might forgo seeing a physician for seeking even the most basic level of care due to potentially high costs.  

Simply put, Intuitive Health has changed the way patients find, receive and are charged for care with its dual emergency room and urgent care model. Intuitive Health has saved Americans and their employers millions in unnecessary ER bills, eliminating inappropriate emergency room utilization by converting unnecessary ER visits into urgent care visits billed at a lower rate. 

If you’d like to learn more about how Intuitive Health addresses ER utilization, visit https://www.iheruc.com/about-us/. Learn more about how we care for our patients at https://www.iheruc.com/patients/. To find a location near you, visit https://www.iheruc.com/connect/